Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Watercolor Wednesday - Gum Arabic Printing

I like the embossed wrinkles

In class this week, we experimented with making watercolor prints.  These two were made with Gum Arabic.   Using distressed (sandpapered) plexiglass, you applied the Gum Arabic and let it dry.  Then you used mostly opaque watercolors painted randomly or in a preconceived design.   All best intentions with mine!  Place sketching paper (Bristol Smooth was also suggested) over the top and transfer the paint using a brayer on the wrong side.

The first was the original...the second, the "ghost print" with some added color touches.
I couldn't tell if inspired by Easter eggs, jelly beans, or a 1 1/2 hour Yin and Yang yoga class.  Perhaps all three!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Still Here!

I am still participating in the A to Z Challenge, just a few letters behind due to travel…and life.
Watch for the Pink Star J is for Jasmine post, which will be backdated -- as will the others to keep the date to the letter -- for Friday, April 11.  I am in the process of uploading the photo right now, in fact, at Whole Foods Market.  (Along with buying some Chocolove Almonds & Sea Salt Dark Chocolate bars.  Let's just call that motivation!)  K for Saturday and L for today.  I should be tickety-boo this week.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

True Love Found

Absolutely incredible photograph by fellow Rochesterian, Jamie Montanus.  His winter photographs were even featured on The Weather Channel recently.   Visit his webpage and Facebook for more breathtaking photography.
Copyrighted image, used with permission.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Lull in Luling

Pretty butterfly (does anyone know what kind it is?  I've never seen it before) taking a break amongst the Indian Paintbrushes and Bluebonnets.

A to Z Blogging Challenge - J is for (Pink Star) Jasmine

J is for Pink Star Jasmine
Jasminum polyanthum

This is my Hurricane Ike resurrected Pink Jasmine, which is coming back even stronger this year.
Jasmine tea is not only delicious to drink, but is calming, reducing stress and anxiety.  It's beautiful scent in aromatherapy can even help dispel depression.  Try a compress of the blossoms to relieve headaches.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

A to Z Blogging Challenge - I is for Iris

I is for Iris
Iris Germanica (also used as Orris Root, which belongs to the Iridaceae family)

I took this photo outside with the sunlight playing.
I also had fun painting this - I love how the two petals making an L shape
turned out.  I will probably be darkening them, but I wanted a
"before" photo!

Orris root is used as a flavoring in desserts.  It also strengthens your gums and freshens breath.  
It is said that the iris can bestow its powers for love, protection and personal success!

Thursday Tea Time - Just Dandy

This week - The Republic of Tea Super Herb Tea - Dandelion

Cost:   $12.99 at Whole Foods
Number of teabags:  36
Caffeine:  No
Type of tea:  Herbal
Ingredients:  Organic roasted dandelion root, organic ground roasted dandelion root, organic vanilla flavor, natural French vanilla flavor
Steeping time:  5 to 7 minutes
Add ins:  Nothing!  This tastes great by itself.
Fragrance: Roasted vanilla - Yummy!
Opinion:  Timing is everything.  When was posting last week's A to Z Blogging Challenge, D is for Dandelion, I found this tea!  And I love it!  The flavor is like toasted vanilla.  Probably one of the best vanilla teas I've had, and the dandelion benefit is just bonus.  This would be fun to drink in the summer, iced.  With an ice-clinking glass toast to the dandelions in the backyard!
Rating: 5+


Wednesday, April 09, 2014

A to Z Blogging Challenge - H is for Hyssop

H is for Hyssop
Hyssopus officinalis

Hyssop was used as an expectorant and cough suppressant, and its tea was to help with rheumatism.   It's camphor-like flavor can also be found in mouthwash.  (Some sources caution should be used in taking it internally as too much can cause problems with the central nervous system.) 
It is also known as a "Holy Herb" and mentioned several times in the Bible (Hebrews 9:19, Exodus 12:22, Psalm 51:7)  as a spiritual purifying agent.  Using a handful in your bath can supposedly take off a jinx and get rid of bad habits.

All that aside, with its pretty flowers, plant hyssop in your garden to attract honey bees, hummingbirds and butterflies!  

Wednesday Work in Progress - Eggs Over Easy

Practicing and playing around in watercolor class last week. . .resulted without trying into a Spring-time seasonal picture I ended up framing and displaying in my bookcase.   I love how the colors turned out.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

A to Z Blogging Challenge - G is for Gardenia

G is for Gardenia
Gardenia Florida

Gardenia - Get Happy

Also known as the "Happiness Herb"!
Along that line, gardenia in tea and capsule form helps with irritable emotions, restlessness, emotional blockage and insomnia...and the aroma calms the heart.   Externally it can be used topically for bruises, sprains and swellings

Hello Kitty Artist - Draw a bird day - April 8

Draw a Bird began in 1943 when a young girl asked her wounded soldier uncle in the hospital to draw a picture of a bird in her attempt to cheer him.  Today it is celebrated as a way to express joy in life's simple things and for soldiers everywhere to forget war and suffering if only for a little bit of time.
Here's the link to the Draw A Bird Day website to see previous and current pictures and upload your own.

You can even post your drawings on their Facebook page -- search for dabday -- and be sure check out their Twitter page @dabday

Monday, April 07, 2014

A to Z Blogging Challenge - F is for Fennel

F is for Fennel
Foeniculum vulgare

Fun with Fennel!

Fennel helps relieve indigestion and has expectorant and antiseptic properties. 

It's a very aromatic herb which can be used internally and externally. . . 

and also for aromatherapy!  
It has been said a whiff of sweet fennel essential oil can help strengthen your psyche and dispel nervousness when you are feeling anxious or scared.

. . .of course for cooking and baking, too.   
(Here's a link for my Split Pea Soup)

Saturday, April 05, 2014

A to Z Blogging Challenge - E is for Eucalyptus

E is for Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus globulus

Eucalyptus helps upper respiratory issues from colds to coughs to congestion.  It has antibacterial properties which help prevent tooth decay and promote periodontal health.  And externally it is used for easing muscle pain.

Friday, April 04, 2014

A to Z Blogging Challenge - D is for Dandelion

D is for Dandelion - Taraxacum

Also known as Fairy Clock and Blowballs!
It is said that the jagged leaves helped name it - Dent-de-Lion (Lion's tooth)

I do believe the dandelion is poised to become the new media nutritional darling.

The Republic of Tea even has a new Dandelion tea.
Or you can make your own using the flowers, roots or leaves.    (Best to use them from your own, untreated yard, instead of from public places.)  Dandelion tea is supposedly good for weight loss and helping to lower cholesterol.  You can even roast the roots to make a coffee substitute.

The dandelion is anti inflammatory, and some studies are showing it could help prevent cancer - particularly melanoma.  Dandelion is very good for the digestive system, including the liver, gallbladder and pancreas, and supporting kidney function.

The leaves are less bitter if picked before the flowers appear...but once the they do, the flowers have their own uses.  People are also making an infused oil with the flowers to not only put on salads, but as a rub for aches and pains, and irritated skin.   Here's a good link:

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Peak a Blue

A peek at some rather peaked bluebonnets in Houston.  Granted these are on the side of West 11th Street.  I liked the contrast of the cement/asphalt.  I'm looking forward to fresh fields of them in Central Texas in the upcoming weeks.

Thursday Tea Time

This week - The Republic of Tea Hi Caf Teas - Caramel Black

Cost:   $12.99 at Whole Foods
Number of teabags:  50 !
Caffeine:  Hell Yes! (123 mg)
For comparison, Coffee has 100mg
Type of tea:   Black, with Green tea extract
Steeping time:  3 to 5 minutes, I set the timer on this one - 3 minutes
Add ins:  Just a little Natural Bliss creamer
Ingredients:  Black tea, green tea extract, natural caramel flavor
Fragrance:  Caramel
Opinion:  This is good!  I mean, really good!  I've been liking caramel tea, as it is a way to enjoy the sweetness of the caramel without destroying dental work or creating more trouble.  And sometimes you just the like the more robustness of black tea instead of the green and rooibos teas.   This one packs a punch!  I drank it in the morning and went strong all day.   No jitters or tachycardia, just a good energy boost.  Bonus it tastes so good.  Not an artificial or cloyingly sweet caramel flavor.  I also like that for the money, you do get a lot of tea bags.  Check out my earlier sip of Hi Caf Gingermint Green.  I also have the Hi Caf Toasted Coconut Black tea in an upcoming review.
Rating:  5

A to Z Blogging Challenge - C is for Chamomile

C is for Chamomile, Anthemis nobilis
I bought a bouquet of chamomile at Trader Joe's - it looked pretty in the vase and imparted a pleasant fruity (apple-ish) fragrance.
Chamomile is gently astringent and healing.  You'll find it in face creams/cleansers and shampoos/conditioners, and of course, tea!  Drinking the tea helps with tummy troubles.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

She's a Little Bit Sketchy...

So exhorts the cool case!   This is a great book, too!
(Thanks, Theresa!)

A to Z Blogging Challenge - B is for Basil

B is for Sweet Basil, Ocimum basilicum
Sweet Basil from my garden - I love the purple flowers, too.
In addition to making pesto and seasoning your Italian cooking, the aromatic basil leaves can be tossed in your bath and used in potpourri.  Basil can help ease digestion woes and coughs.

Sweet Basil 

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Tea for Two

Two cups of tea
Love this! Got it as a birthday gift from a wonderful friend who knows how much I like tea, and a good tea party!

A to Z Blogging Challenge - A is for Aloe

My theme for the April 2014 A to Z challenge is Watercolor Healing Herbs and Plants.
For two reasons, one to get my watercolor game on and practice (times 26!)...and learn about different medicinal herbs and plants along the way.

So let's start with A is for Aloe Vera
Aloe barbadensis

The gel/juice of the Aloe is well-known and used for minor burns, but did you know it is also especially good as a moisturizer for those with eczema and dry skin?

Aloe Vera

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Pretty and Pink

Indian Hawthorn
Rhaphiolepsis indica
"Springtime is the land awakening.  The March winds are the morning yawn." ~ Lewis Grizzard

The cold winter we had definitely pinked up our almost 28 year old Indian Hawthorn bush.  It is the prettiest it has been in years.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Netflix Stars - HappyThankYouMorePlease

4.75 stars.  What a nice, easy-to-digest indie movie!  Sundance Film Festival Best Drama Audience Award winner, too.  Four separate story lines you pick up occurring in the middle of living life.  Very easy to get caught up into them, not unlike watching a soap opera.    There are some great lines, especially in the scenes with Sam #2 and Annie.  Josh Radnor, the writer and lead actor (Sam #1) and director, was also in Liberal Arts, which I thoroughly enjoyed, too.  You'll also like the soundtrack with Jay May and the Shout Out Louds - Which unfortunately is not available as a separate CD.  However, if you click here, you'll find the list of songs so you can create your own playlist.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Thursday Tea Time - Color it green

This week - Yogi Green Tea Super Antioxidant 

Cost:   $2.99-$3.99 at supermarkets, Whole Foods
Number of teabags:  16
Caffeine:  Yes (21 mg)
Type of tea:   Green, herbal
Steeping time:  3 minutes
Add ins:  Nothing at all needed -- I did try adding a little unfiltered honey, but it actually made it too sweet!
Ingredients:  Organic green tea, grapeseed and arnia (potent antioxidants to combat free radicals), organic lemongrass, licorice, jasmine green tea, all organic: alfalfa leaf, burdock root, dandelion root and Irish moss (?! no idea what that does)
(Note:  Because of all their herbal ingredients, always check with your healthcare provider if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication or have medical condition)
Fragrance:  Floral citrus
Opinion:  This is a nice, organic green tea.   Sweet and not bitter.   All the ingredients play nicely together to create a good balance of flavor.  It tastes great iced or warm.  I especially cheer that it can stand alone without any additional sweetener.  The licorice and jasmine take care of that just fine.
I also like their tea tags.  And the boxes.   You can open and then refold them back into a box, wrong side out.  And decorate them while you are sipping your tea!  Google or check Pinterest and see what others have done.
Rating: 3.75

Yes it is

Just add color!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Wednesday Work in Progress - A Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose

I am extremely happy how this turned out! (I also made the vase several years ago)

Here are the other three in the series, from bud to vase.  It's funny how on different days you can get  different results...trying new techniques and experimenting with different colors and paint.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Rock it!

Right after I said aloud, "I want to get rid of this scraggly rock rose bush," it blooms into constellations of stars in the night.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Peggy, A to Z

See the top of my sidebar?  I'm finally doing a blog challenge, "Blogging from A to Z"
Stay tuned to see what I do for each letter of the alphabet!

Want to do the same?  There's still time.  Sign up here!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Yarka, Yarka

Head's up on a great deal!
Hobby Lobby is discontinuing their Yarka watercolor sets.   In particular, the location near Bay Area Boulevard off of I-45 (northbound side).

Originally $8.99 and $6.99;  the 12 color and 8 color sets are now $5.39 and $4.19 respectively.
How to choose?!  At that price, I got both.  And bonus - the set of 12 has two built-in palettes!

I love to collect art supplies, especially those on sale!  It's fun to experiment and try new techniques with new toys.
(Watch for upcoming post on the pink, green, yellow and orange sheets of tin I bought - as soon as I figure out what I'm going to make!)

Anyways, being new to watercolor, I hadn't heard of Yarka, so I Googled it.    Only to find that people loved the brand and the great results…and compared to the online prices, I had a find!

...Balanced on top of the Bristol Smooth paper pad I had originally stopped by to purchase.

Just have fun. Smile. And keep putting on lipstick ~Diane Keaton

Costco in Sugar Land has clearanced-priced the Christian Dior Cannage Couture Collection All Over Makeup Palette - Item #775221.   (The retail price is $72!)

At first I was a little hesitant, because all you can see in the clamshell is the photo on the box, not the actual product.  But having gone to Sephora earlier and leaving disappointed, I thought I would give this a chance.  A couple new eyeshadows/blush/lipsticks would have cost more than this.

And I'm glad I did grab this.  I love all the colors, just perfect for Spring.  Nothing too flashy, just elegant colors.  To sum it all, it's just, pretty - and I feel pretty putting them on and facing the world.

I think it is designed to be a travel kit, but looks nice enough to leave on my vanity.  And when I do travel, I'm bringing this with me!

Garden Update

The nicotiana is in full bloom!  It's about 3 1/2 feet tall.    The fragrance is intoxicating, especially in the evening.  Hummingbirds even stop by near sunset.  It is a prolific reseeder.  Definitely consider growing this in your garden.  

Friday, March 21, 2014

Upcoming Jo-Ann's Pattern Sales

Weekend Sale - March 27/29
Simplicity - $1.99

April 3/5
Butterick - 5/$7  ($1.40)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Thursday Tea Time

This week - The Art of Tea Mandarin Silk

Cost:   $11 at Oasis Juice Bar in Galveston, Texas
Number of teabags:  1.5 ounce loose tea
Caffeine:  Yes
Type of tea:   Oolong tea fusion
Steeping time:  3 to 5 minutes.
Add ins:  Nothing!  It is perfect as is!
Ingredients:  Oolong Tea, Organic Lemon Myrtle, Organic Marigolds, Natural Flavors
Fragrance:  Apricot-floral-citrus,  mellowed with vanilla
Opinion:  This was highly recommended at the Oasis Juice Bar.  Given the lovely name and thinking of mandarin oranges, at first I feared it might be citrus-based -- meaning migraine for me, but hooray, it isn't.  It just has a citrus-y flavor and aroma combined with vanilla.  The associate at Oasis said it is one of her favorites and very popular.  I can see (and taste) why.  It's a loose tea and the label directions say to use a teaspoon - it does puff up. But the website says to use a tablespoon.  Go with the teaspoon.  I can see why this is award-winning and a bestseller, you will, too.
Rating: 5

Light and pretty!

Hello Spring!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Wednesday Work in Progress - Wintergreen'd

My Dad as a little boy

Dad and Grandma

Grandpa and Grandma
In watercoloring class, we learned how to transfer photos and sketches using wintergreen oil.  A very cool technique!

All you need is wintergreen oil --

Synthetic works great and is cheaper.  Some pharmacies will have it, you can also check the baking aisles.  Humco is one brand, and the one we used in class - which you can order online or contact them and they will let you know which stores in your area carry it.
I actually found mine at Bulk Apothecary at a great price with affordable shipping RetailMeNot has coupons for them, I got an additional 10% off!

-- Strathmore Bristol Smooth paper
(make sure it is Smooth, not Vellum - they look very similar, says the girl who now has a pad of Vellum paper)

-- Q-tips

-- A page folding tool/bone paper folder, or any rounded/smooth edged tool to rub/transfer the design without destroying the paper in the process.

-- Photographs or sketches which have been photocopied.  Not from your printer.  

Bonus if the copier you are using has "use original color" feature.
I printed these photos from the computer as "photograph" and was so happy the sepia color came through on the photocopy and the transfer!

Unfortunately, regular colored photographs do not work as well.  The transfer is very faint.

Also remember that your transfer will be reversed from the original.  Be mindful of letters and numbers.


1.  Place your copy face down on the Bristol Smooth paper.  It helps to tape a few corners/edges to avoid smearing.  You should also tape the Bristol paper to a foam board or other firm surface.

2.  Using a Q-tip, dip it into the wintergreen oil and apply to a small area of the copy.  Note:  It dries quickly!   About 2 inches was workable for me.

3.  Take your paper folding tool and rub firmly.  I found a circular motion worked best instead of just one direction.   As you can see, by the time I got to Grandma and Grandpa, I got better!   You can even see the cigarette he's holding!

4.  After it dries, you can enhance the details with pencils - lead, charcoal, Prisma, watercolor….PITT pens…or try tinting with a little watercolor paint or thinned gouache…even making it three dimensional with glitter, beads, scrapbooking embellishments, etc.

This is a great way to reproduce your work/sketches and treasured photographs and pictures.  The ones I used were printed from a cousin's email on my printer.    You can also play with reducing or enlarging the size of the transfer photocopy.  You can also selectively transfer within the photocopy.

I can't wait to give the ones of my Dad to my Mom in a pretty frame!  I will post the final results before I do!