Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Upcoming Jo-Ann's Pattern Sales

Holiday Headstart - November 26-December 6

Butterick - 3/$5
Buttons - BIGIF
Thread - BIGIF

Super Savings Sale - December 4-6

McCall's - 3/$5
Vogue - $4.99
Simplicity - $1.99

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thursday Tea Time - Chai Spice Mate

This week - Guayaki Yerba Mate - Chai Spice Mate

Cost:   $6.49 at Kroger
Number of teabags:  16,  individually-wrapped
Caffeine:   Yes, 20 mg per serving
Type of tea:   Herbal
Ingredients:  Guayaki Yerba Mate and all organic cinnamon, licorice, ginger, nutmeg, clove and stevia
Steeping time:  8-10 minutes
Add ins:  I thought Coffee Mate's Natural Bliss made this too sweet!  I tried SO Coconut Milk Creamer and Silk Vanilla Unsweetened Almond Milk (separately) instead.  Not good.  Then I tried evaporated milk and sugar. Nope.  Honey - made it drinkable but then that's all I could taste.  I gave up.
Fragrance:  Licorice, cinnamon, clove
Opinion:  Not that impressed.  I like my other chai teas much better.  I mailed what was left to my sister.   I loved the other two flavors I tried, so I was a bit disappointed in this one.
Rating:  1.40 - the cost of the postage to mail to my sister.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Watercolor Wednesday - Part I: Color me not really impressed (yet?)

Winsor & Newton Watercolor Marker Set - Primary
Quick sketch,  just add water?
Trying to make a green leaf!  Hmmm

Patiently I waited for a 40% off Michael's coupon…I spotted the Winsor-Newton watercolor markers a couple weeks ago, but the current store coupon at the time was 25% off.  Not when these are priced at $14.99 for 3 and $29.99 for 6.  (If you are looking for them, too, they are not in the watercolor paint section, but in the drawing and colored pencils aisle one over.)   And then this week, aha!  A 50% off one item coupon!  Ka-ching!

Of course, when I went back others must have the same idea as all the six packs were gone, leaving me to choose the Primary set of three, which has Permanent Rose, Lemon Yellow Hue and Phthalo Blue-Red Shade.

I thought this would be a good starter set, I could mix these to get the other colors on the color wheel, right?  Not really.  Evidently they want you to buy all the markers for the colors you need, as evidenced above.

I didn't think they played nicely with each other.  I thought if I laid down the color outline, I could add water and blend and spread around the pigment.  Not quite again.  You need to work fast, outline/marker, then add water.  Not sketch out first with them.  For once they dry, and dry they rapidly do, it releases some of the color but not all.

I also thought they seemed kind of dry for a paintbrush marker, particularly the Lemon Yellow Hue.   I tried to use the marker "brush" to blend with the blue to get a green, and instead the yellow marker brush was stained blue, albeit temporarily.  It eventually cleaned up - see the left side of the paper.  It also seemed the driest.  Granted I was using Arches watercolor paper, but it should not have absorbed and dried it out as soon as I tried to draw.  Not smooth at all.   These may be better suited for art journals/sketchbooks.

Permanent Rose did in fact seem "permanent" - it released some color, more of a tinting.  Not bad, but good to know if you are used to the vibrancy of Permanent Rose from the tube.

The Phthalo Blue-Red Shade seemed the most fluid, especially when still wet.  You can see the outlines of it when it dried.  Wetting the paper first then trying to "marker-paint" didn't really work either.

However, I did like the bleed-out edges of the outlines, a cool effect.  And I thought my quick drawing turned out interesting, just not what I expected.  The photograph did not really capture all the different shadings and details, which are really pretty close-up.

I was hoping to find "portable" watercolors to toss in my traveling art knapsack, along with a water brush and be good to go.  I thought they would be "paint-ier" and more fluid.   I think I will stick with my watercolor pencils (my Derwent Inktense) for portability and for adding additional colors and easier blending.  At least I can control the intensity and unwanted lines remaining a little bit better with lighter or heavier touches of color.

Right now I think their application is best for bold accents and serendipitous outcomes.  I will still play some more with these, but to rely on them alone to grab and go without my traveling palette as a back-up, I probably won't.  Not with just these three colors.   If you have the money and the coupon (which, pssst!  It is reusable, just not at the same store on the same day.) it might be nice to have.

But wait, stay tuned for Part II of my adventure with these markers.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Netflix Stars - Admission

3.50 stars - We thought this was a cute and quirky movie.  Is it a true rom-com?  Not really.  But it has its moments.  A bit choppy in places, but we liked the fact the ending is unexpected.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Upcoming Jo-Ann's Pattern Sales

Stock Your Sleigh Days - November 23-25

Sunday only, November 23
Butterick 3/$5
Vogue $4.99

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Thursday Tea Time - Tastes like flowery chicken

This week - Traditional Medicinals Organic Chamomile with Lavender

Cost:   $3.99 on sale at Super Target, regular price $4.89
Number of teabags:  16, individually-wrapped
Caffeine:   No
Type of tea:   Herbal
Ingredients:   All Organic chamomile flower, English lavender flower, lemon balm leaf
Steeping time:   10 minutes
Add ins:  Plain or with a splash of milk and honey.
Fragrance:   Lavender/floral
Opinion:   It has a savory, umami flavor with a pleasant lavender taste.  It actually seems even better cooled.  Very calming and nice to drink in the evening.  "Like aromatherapy for your digestive and nervous systems…"
Rating:  2.5 - especially for the health and immunity boosting benefits.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Peace inside and outside

In yoga today, we talked about ahimsa.  Ahimsa—the principles of kindness and compassion, toward yourself and others, in words, thoughts and actions. It respects living beings as a unity, the belief that all living things are connected.  

Saturday, November 08, 2014


Scored at Texas Art Supply today - a Stillman & Birn Zeta Smooth 180 pound 7" x 10" sketchbook.  Regular price $22.99, I paid $8.00!  My favorite clerk was singing the praises of the Zeta series for my watercoloring.  "You will love it," he said, "...and you can't beat the price!"

(Note to my Houston area watercolor peeps, I grabbed the last wire-bound one in this size.  However, you may want to check the Voss and Montrose locations this weekend so you can take advantage of the half-off red tag price deal items, too.  I think they are clearing out their stock, as the promotion is "while supplies last."  So if you are a Stillman & Birn fan, run over there.  They had their line from Beta to Zeta)

Friday, November 07, 2014

F These

My favorite sketching pencil for watercolor is the Staedtler Mars Lumograph pencil in "F" 
(Top one in the photo)  
It has a nice, light touch, easily erasable -- important for me!  But as I keep using and sharpening it, I wanted to stock in a supply.  Unfortunately, this is not a common degree and rather hard to find selling separately outside of the sets locally.  (I did find an online source at Dick Blick, surprisingly it was not available individually at the Staedtler website)

I thought I would try two other brands of F pencils.  I try to buy locally and support independent stores, and I found these two at Texas Art Supply.

The Prismacolor Turquoise 2260 (bottom) was very easy to sharpen, but the lead seemed harder and draggy.  This will probably live out its life as all-purpose desk pencil in the pen/pencil jar.  Bonus it is a pretty color.

The Tombow Chromo-Graph Mono (middle) took a bit longer to sharpen, but I thought it had a smoother and softer feel.

While the Mars still remains my favorite, the easier to find Tombow is a close runner-up.  
Always have a back-up plan...and a back-up pencil!

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Triple Threat

Triple Chocolate M&M Cookies

Here is another version -Fall Harvest Halloween Thanksgiving- of the Cocoa M&M Cookies from the March 1995 issue of McCall's magazine. I grabbed a bag of M&M's at Target's After Halloween Sale.  I was planning to make a double batch for a Chili Cook-Off fundraiser.  Alas, the bags are no longer two cups -- but 12.6 ounces now.  However, I made up the difference with dark chocolate chips.  I think they even turned out better and more chocolate-y!


1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened (you can easily lop off 1 1/2 tablespoons without being missed)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup M&Ms plain chocolate candy
confectioner's sugar

Grease 3 large baking sheets. Preheat oven to 350. In medium bowl, mix flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. In large (coverable if you do this *) bowl, combine sugar and butter. At high speed beat 2 minutes or until creamy. Beat in egg and vanilla; beat 2 minutes. Beat in flour mixture. Stir in candies. (*chill 10 minutes or until dough is firm. Roll dough into 1" balls then roll in confectioner's sugar). Place 2" apart on prepared sheets. Bake 10-12 minutes. Cool.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Watercolor Wednesday Work in Progress - Pomegranates

Pair of Pomegranates watercolor
10" x 13 1/4"

Watercolor pomegranates - work in progress.  
I still need to add the seeds at the bottom and work on the background and cans a bit more.  Trying to see the colors and paint in reflections is fun - that moment when you step away and look. . .
I just think, "Wow!"  I definitely learn something each time I begin a new painting.   

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Yarrow, Part 2

Yarrow watercolor
9" x 8 1/4"
Learning to and reminding myself "Ooomp it up" and layer, layer, layer.
I went darker and rougher around and into the flowers.  Wetted the stems/leaves and then used a blend of opaque greens and let them have fun.  The opaque helped it stay pretty well on top yet it was able to move around a little.   These "nothing to lose but opportunities to have fun and learn at the same time"
It's not quite as dark black in real life as photographed, I'm actually liking it more the more I look at it.


To be honest, the only part I liked in the "before" was the upper left corner and sides where salt spilled when I tried to brush it from the flowers.

Monday, November 03, 2014

A to Z Challenge - Y is for Yarrow

Y is for Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Historically the Yarrow herb has been used externally for treating wounds and stopping the flow of blood. Yarrow oil is also used in hair shampoos.   If you have allergies to ragweed, it may be best to avoid contact with yarrow, you may be more susceptible to a reaction.

And with this post, I am finished with the 2014 Challenge!   There were over 2,000 bloggers participating.  Click here for the link to all my posts for this Challenge.  I really learned a lot, not only about the herbs and flowers, but practicing watercolor.

Better late than never!

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Thank you

"I thank you God for most this amazing day:  for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes"
~ e.e. cummings

Friday, October 31, 2014

Love is all around us

October 30, 2014
6:33 PM

Even in Oyster Creek

Hello Happy Halloween

Halloween Pumpkin 2014 - Candy Corn Gumball!

Love, love, LOVE the Martha Stewart Mother of Pearl paint!  The orange is just the glitter paint over the pumpkin and the yellow is a combo of yellow with a layer of the yellow glitter paint.  The Martha Stewart paints were 30% off at Michael's this week.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Thursday Tea Time - Indulgent Tea

This week - Numi Indulgent Tea Chocolate Spice

Cost:   $7.99 at Whole Foods/Sugar Land
Number of teabags:  12,  individually-wrapped
Caffeine:   Yes
Type of tea:   Black
Ingredients:  All organic cacao powder, black tea, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg, star anise.
Steeping time:  8 minutes
Add ins:  A splash of Coffee Mate's Natural Bliss.
Fragrance:  Spicy chocolate, like Mexican hot chocolate!
Opinion:   You know this is going to be a good tea when chocolate is listed first!  And unlike last week's Tazo pepper'd chai, this has a wonderful flavor.  And no black pepper in the ingredients.  This makes for a sweet treat and kept me out of the Halloween candy.  However, it is a bit on the pricey side.  Whole Foods eventually will put this on sale and I will stock up then.  You can also save by buying larger quantities online -- I know I will blow through this box ricky-tick.  There are also three other flavors in their Indulgent Tea line - Chocolate Earl Grey, Chocolate Mint and Chocolate Rooibos.  Whole Foods had them all.
Rating:  4.5 dinged only by the high price.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

At the stroke of Midnight. . .

Midnight Pumpkin Patch
9 1/2" x 8 1/2"

BOO!  I'm getting braver using more and bolder layers of color.  Yesterday's class had a Halloween theme and we were working with using light.  In my case, moonlight!

Monday, October 27, 2014

A to Z Challenge - W is for Wintergreen

Wintergreen berries

W is for wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens)

Wintergreen is often used used in topical/external analgesic for the treatment of muscular and rheumatic pain.  You can even use wintergreen oil for transferring images, as I did here.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

A to Z Challenge - T is for Tarragon

T is for Tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus)

This perennial herb is used to flavor Mediterranean cooking.  Tarragon is a prime ingredient in BĂ©rnaise Sauce and a favorite French herb mixture, fines herbes.  The fresh leaves are more potent than dried.

Tarragon has been used in various traditional medicines for stimulating the appetite and as a remedy for indigestion and hiccups.  It is a very rich source of C, A and the B-complex vitamins, and is an excellent source of calcium, manganese, iron, magnesium, copper, potassium, and zinc.

Be extraordinary

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Magical Dream Sticks

Dreams contained herein!
A nice way to reference crayons.  Crayolas.   I've never called them "colors"... just as I never have called a Kleenex a "facial tissue."    Though I may just start calling them "Magical Dream Sticks"*

Caran d'Ache Neocolor II Aquarelle Water Soluble Wax Pastels --
Left to Right:  Moss Green, Empire Green, Prussian Blue, Yellow and Ruby Red

*(thank you, Professor SunWolf)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Thursday Tea Time - Tazo Vanilla Caramel Chai

This week - Tazo Chai Vanilla Caramel  

Cost:   $3.00 on sale at Target
Number of teabags:  20  individually-wrapped
Caffeine:   Yes
Type of tea:   Black
Ingredients:  Black tea, cinnamon, natural flavors, licorice root, ginger, black pepper, cloves
Steeping time:  5 minutes
Add ins:  A splash of Coffee Mate's Natural Bliss.
Fragrance:  strongly cinnamon
Opinion:   Disappointed.  I had high hopes for this, but the faint vanilla and caramel scent and flavor was overpowered.  This tea has a very strong peppery aftertaste.  I couldn't even finish it.   : P
Rating:  1, only because of its tongue-numbing properties

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Snail's pace

"Keep your love of nature, for that is the true way to understand art more and more" - Vincent Van Gogh.

Patiently painting layer upon layer of color trying to grab the iridescence for what abalone is known, without using white.  But at the end of class, I was finished and pretty darn happy with the effect!

Our watercolor class on Monday focused on objects of nature.  I was totally amazed by nature's details, often overlooked, by really seeing and studying and painting.  The edges of a butterfly's wing, the colors of white, the shadows of feathers…  My eyes were opened with appreciation and awe.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Oscar-Worthy Sewing

"It is not about what you wear, but how you live your life" - Oscar de la Renta

Ah, but thanks to you, Oscar de la Renta - Vogue American Designer for Vogue Patterns, we could do so looking beautiful and well-dressed.

On behalf of sewists around the world, thank you for sharing your talents and designs for the sewing community. 

Vogue 2541 Oscar de la Renta

Vogue 1043 Oscar de la Renta

Vogue 2425 Oscar de la Renta

Vogue 2889 Oscar de la Renta

Vogue 1667 Oscar de la Renta

Monday, October 20, 2014

Making your own carbon transfer paper

As a quick project, we made our own carbon transfer paper in watercoloring class!

DIY carbon graphite transfer paper

This is a great way to transfer your drawings in your sketchbook to watercolor paper.  Just photocopy the sketch, even enlarge it, put it on top of the transfer paper graphite side down on top the watercolor paper, outlining your design.   

I also plan to use it to make additional variations of a watercolor I painted.   I really loved the sketch I did -- and rather than try to redraw it again,  I will use a photocopy I made.  Time and sanity-saving!  

One of the advantages to making your own is it is much easier to erase the tracings on your paper, as there isn't a waxy finish you may find on commercial transfer paper.  It is also reusable, foldable and transportable to stick in your supply bag.

All you need is a sheet of vellum (or tracing paper, the vellum seems a bit sturdier), lighter fluid, a cotton ball and a graphite stick.

Using the side of the graphite stick, cover one side of the vellum.  Wet the cotton ball (not dripping) with lighter fluid and rub the paper, which will dissolve the graphite.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Netflix Stars - Nebraska

3.5 stars - A little slow in places but worth sticking with all the way to the end.  It reminded me of "Little Miss Sunshine" as far as a trip with mission and family drama.  I like that it was filmed in black and white - perfect.  Will Forte is adorable and proves he can do drama along with comedy -- though there is one scene with the compressor that had hubby and I both cracking up.  (I'm even  laughing as I'm typing this.)

Friday, October 17, 2014

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Thursday Tea Time - Mate Chocolatte'

This week - Guayaki Yerba Mate Chocolatte' 

Cost:   $7.99 at Whole Foods
Number of teabags:  16,  individually-wrapped
Caffeine:   Yes
Type of tea:   Herbal
Ingredients:  Organic:  Yerba mate leaf, cocoa, nutmeg, cinnamon, stevia leaf, clove
Steeping time:  5-10 minutes
Add ins:  A splash of Coffee Mate's Natural Bliss.  Going to try with almond milk next time I go to the store and buy some.
Fragrance:  Cacao and clove.
Opinion:   Another I find I like this more after each mug I drink. Especially when you make it a Mate Chocolatte latte.  Hahaha, so punny me.  Trying to stay healthy and keep my energy immune system up and running at high speed, with 24 vitamins and minerals, 15 amino acids and abundant antioxidants, and Yerba's adaptogen-like qualities, which include reducing the effects of occasional stress, this should do the trick in a tasty way.
Rating:  5

Monday, October 13, 2014

Blue Shadow Wire Dog Watercolor

Blue Shadow Wire Dog watercolor
12" x 10"

One of the inspiration photos

44th Wire Piece, 1972
Wire and template for pencil line
47 x 22 x 11 1/4 in.
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Gift of Lannan Foundation

Inspired by the work of artist Richard Tuttle, we were working on line drawings/paintings in watercolor class.  Our instructor brought in several items with great lines -- a birdcage still-life (which I took photos to try at home) and this free-form metal wire dog.  Two of us were fascinated by this wire sculpture and we had fun posing him/her in the lobby of the Art League.   It looked different from every angle.  And I liked how it cast a blue shadow.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Upcoming Jo-Ann's Columbus Day Simplicity Pattern Sale

Columbus Day Simplicity Pattern Sale - 99 cents

Sun-Day Reflections

"The sun shines down, and its image reflects in a thousand different pots filled with water.  The reflections are many, but they are each reflecting the same sun.  Similarly, when we come to know who we truly are, we will see ourselves in all people."