Thursday, February 26, 2015

Thursday Tea Time - Chocolate Raisins

This week - Rishi Limited Edition Cocoa Cabernet

Cost:  $9.99
Number of tea bags:  10
Caffeine:  No
Type of tea:  Herbal
Steeping time:  4 minutes
Mix ins: Nothing
Ingredients:  Organic - red wine grape skins, roasted cocoa nibs, maquis series, cinnamon, acai  powder, vanilla bean, black pepper.
Fragrance:   Like Raisinettes
Opinion:  Brewing to a pretty chocolate-wine color, this tastes well worth the price of almost $1/teabag.  The Rishi website no longer has it, I found it at Central Market.  Judging by Googling, this probably came out in 2013, as the expiration on the box is October 5, 2015.  No problems, it will be gone before then.  I like it, it is different.  It starts out chocolatey, then a distinct wine flavor, closing with a nice tangy berry.  What a tea ride!  It even smells good. And photographs Pinterest posting pretty.   If I'm back by Central Market within a few days, I may pick up an extra box.  Head's up Houston -- There were a couple left.  Maybe not now.   Only dinged because of the price.

Rating:  4.5
Pinterest Pretty Pink!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Bloglovin Claimin

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Mary - First Sketch

Yeah, I surprised myself, too!
I love how her face turned out.

Trip Value

Value as in practicing my value sketching on the go!

The Strathmore Toned Gray sketch book already adds the middle value.  The black is Winsor & Newton Ivory Black and the white is Winsor & Newton Titanium White watercolors "blobbed" inside a Trader Joe's Gingermints tin.  Toss in my favorite 6F pencils, art gum eraser and a couple of size 6/8 brushes, and I'm good to go.

It's portable and easy to carry in case I'm ever in a place without my computer/wifi, my eyes are blurry and crossing from looking at/using my phone...or have a moment to sketch out ideas for an upcoming watercolor blog series.
(stay tuned!)

I'm trying to get better about doing value sketches or just doing more daily sketching.  Having the materials* at hand with me will help!  And besides, I like things ready to-go for those planned and unplanned moments of time.
(*Inside Ziplocs.  Huge, huge fan of the Ziploc, I buy them at Costco.  I have things Ziploc-ed inside another Ziploc.)
Thank you, imprinting from Girl Scout overnight camping.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Happy Chinese New Year!

Happy New Year of the Wood Sheep!
People born in Sheep years (2015, 2003, 1991, 1979, 1967,1955, 1943, 1931, 1919, 1907) are artistic, kind, inspired, very empathetic, and naturally creative. They appreciate beauty in all its forms, and are connoisseurs of the best life has to offer
Source:  Mystic Mama

Thursday Tea Time - C is for chocolate, cinnamon, combo

This week - Rishi Organic Pu-Erh Chocolate Cinnamon Tea

Cost:  $8.99
Number of tea bags:  15
Caffeine:  Yes
Type of tea:  Pu-erh
Steeping time:  7 minutes
Mix ins: Nothing
Ingredients:  Pu-erh tea, roasted cocoa nibs, cinnamon, vanilla bean, peppermint, licorice root
Fragrance:    Cinnamon/spicy with a hint of chocolate
Opinion:  What a cool and yummy combination of ingredients, and what flavor!  The first time I splashed some Natural Bliss in it, and it was...OK.  Then I read the box which said it "tastes divine without the need for milk or sugar"  And the box was right!  The milk hid the myriad of flavors.  It smells and tastes like chocolate and cinnamon, then you get the hit of peppermint and licorice, closing with vanilla.  I'm only dinging it a little because you do have to steep it longer, in fact - I save the previous teabag to put in the mug as I brew and use a new one.  And it is a little pricey.  It does have a good kick and lingering flavor.
Rating:  4

 A little over the top, packaging-wise?

oh yeah, chocolate!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Mardi Gras Pumpkin

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

My Halloween Pumpkin is still going strong, thanks to a very unusual Fall/Winter.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Upcoming Jo-Ann's Pattern Sales

Presidents' Day Sale 

February 13/16 -
Simplicity patterns - $1

February 19/21 - 
3 for $5 Butterick patterns

February 26/28 - 
3 for $5 McCall's patterns
$4.99 Vogue

Thursday Tea Time - Rose Flavored Glass

This week - The Steeping Room - The Empress' Cup

(kudos to them for correct placement of the possessive apostrophe)

Cost:  $5
Number of tea bags:  N/A it is loose-leaf.  One ounce pouch
Caffeine:  Yes
Type of tea:  Black
Steeping time:  3 minutes
Mix ins: Nothing
Ingredients:  Black tea, rose, rose petals
Fragrance:   Rose
Opinion:  I tasted and bought this tea on the spot at the Texas Tea Festival in Austin last Sunday.  And next time I am back in Austin, I will definitely buy more.  This is the best rose flavored/scented tea I have ever had.  Even beating out the Numi White Rose tea.   It doesn't need a thing, no sweetener, no cream.  It stands by itself.  I was surprised how sweetI bet this would be wonderful iced, too.   Good thing you only need a teaspoon, hopefully the pouch will last longer until I can return.   There are two locations in Austin and they have an organic, vegan and gluten-free menu.  I'm so glad they had a booth at the Festival!
Rating:  5+

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Watercolor Wednesday - Fit to Print

More fun with watercolor. . .paper
I discovered I like this 80-pound weight even more than the Strathmore Inkjet Watercolor weight paper (115 pound)

So does my printer.
And my budget -- you get 25 sheets for $12.99, $2 less compared to $14.99 for 8 sheets - pre 40% off Hobby-Lobby coupon.
I also found that directly printing from my original instead of from my computer retains the colors truer.  I don't know what happens in iPhoto.  The Epson inks really keep the original color true.

I think it is the bottom one
And honestly, when I was showing this to a friend, I couldn't tell her which one was the original and nor could she.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

The King of Hearts

"The King of Hearts"
7 1/2" x 5 3/4"

My Valentine for the Children's Hospital of St. Louis.
(I signed it "Be Brave, Be Strong, Be My Valentine")

Friday, February 06, 2015

It's not too late!

The Mary Engelbreit St. Louis Children's Hospital Valentine's Day Project.  

Mary Engelbreit is collecting Valentines to give to the patients at the St. Louis Children's Hospital on Valentine's Day -- cards only, no candy or gifts.

Please send valentines to:
4814 Washington Boulevard, Suite 230
St. Louis, MO 63108

Not to M.E., but just generally addressed ( for example "for my sweetie pie," or "from your secret admirer!").
Please sign the cards, either with your name, or just your first name, or with a fun fake name like Elmo or Superman or something!

Mary will deliver them to Children's Hospital in St. Louis so that the kids there will get tons of love on Valentines Day!

copyright Mary Engelbreit Enterprises, Inc

Need some ideas?  Check out what Sharon Hendry Art & Design is doing.  Her February 5 post has a link to a PDF for making fabric collage hearts.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Thursday Tea Time - I can't believe it's not butter

This week - Art of Tea Butterscotch

Cost:  $10.99 online - was, it is no longer available.
Number of tea bags:  N/A it is loose-leaf.  Approximately 50 cups
Caffeine:  Yes
Type of tea: White
Steeping time:  3 minutes
Mix ins: Nothing
Ingredients:  Organic White Tea, Organic Cinnamon, Organic Pink Peppercorn, Organic Marigolds, Natural Flavors
Fragrance:  Strong yummy butterscotch scent
Opinion:   Alas, another Limited Edition, and it is no longer available.  I hope they bring it back this Fall.  I like the fact it is a white tea and very delicate.  And it really has a buttery taste!  The first time I added my old standby, Natural Bliss and it was good.  However, this almost tastes better plain.  (Which is good.  I'm back to My Fitness Pal, counting carbs and sugar and calories.  That app keeps you honest and gives you a reality check.  Optional equipment:  Duct tape for your mouth.  Or tea like this!)  This isn't a sickeningly sweet butterscotch flavor like the Nestle chips.  Instead it vaguely reminds me of Butter Rum Lifesavers.  But it's not that strong, and that's why you should drink it plain so you can taste the flavors and not hide them.
Rating:  4, only because I will have to wait to see if they bring it back

Monday, February 02, 2015

Love's Philosophy

"The fountains mingle with the river
And the rivers with the ocean.
The winds of Heaven mix for ever
With a sweet emotion;
Nothing in the world is single,
All things by a law divine
In one spirit meet and mingle
0 Why not I with thine?"

-Percy Bysshe Shelley

Celebrating 30 amazing years with my wonderful husband today!
Ready to go around again. . .as the sunlight clasps the earth and the moonbeams kiss the sea.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Thursday Tea Time - Apple of my Tea

This week - The Art of Tea Apple Pie

Cost:  $10.99 online
Number of tea bags:  N/A it is loose-leaf.  Approximately 50 cups
Caffeine: No
Type of tea: Herbal/Rooibos
Mix ins: Natural Bliss
Fragrance:  Apple pie!
Ingredients:  Organic Rooibos, Organic Honeybush, Organic Cinnamon, Organic Apple Bits, Organic Coconut, Organic Ginger, Organic Pink Peppercorn, Organic Black Peppercorn, Organic Nutmeg, Natural Flavors
Opinion:   Limited edition, so grab it now if you'd like.  This smells fruity and indeed tastes like apple pie, especially if you add milk/sweetner.  Plain, it's kinda sorta like apple spice cider. The milk makes it come alive.  It is a little on the sweet side, so it is definitely a dessert tea.  I tried it this morning after breakfast and I almost felt like I was eating apple jacks with my cereal.  Not unpleasant, but this would be good in the afternoon or after dinner to keep you from actually eating apple pie.
Rating: 4

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Water - Color

It was such a pretty 75 degree day in Galveston today - no time to post a watercolor picture...but how about a pretty picture of the Gulf of Mexico water instead?

Monday, January 26, 2015

Monday Musing - the Goo of Aquamarine (Sounds kinda Zen-like, yes? There is a lesson contained herein)

Not actual size
What is it about samples?

We love to get them,
but we don't love to use them?  What's the deal here?

They pile onto each other in the drawers we stuff them in, until about once a year we do a clean out, and donate them to women's shelters and food banks.  
And vow to use the freebie goodies we think we want to keep.

But then what do we do?  Perhaps toss a few that leaked or can't figure out what they are/do.
Hair catalyst?!

Some are easily carbon-dated -

In my defense this was hidden underneath, yes, more traveling kits
Some are so tiny, there's barely enough for one use.

So we think we will use it when we travel, thanks to TSA.
Stashing a few of them in our traveling makeup/toiletries bags.   Which I've also sorted through, tossed/donated.

But who wants to take a chance on something that could stink to high heaven when trying to impress relatives and friends, or a special occasion you flew halfway across the country for.   Or a quick* weekend getaway trip.

*While patting yourself on the back for being so spontaneous and prepared, be sure to prelocate those urgent care ER rooms popping up in strip malls and along the freeways.  Or also toss in a few doses of Benadryl in the convenient peel-to-open dose packaging.

Or even an allergic reaction to the product since you can't see the ingredients on said tiny tube if they are even on there, since you peeled it off the glue dot of the cardboard holder upon acquiring and tossing into the drawer.
#NoSoy, #NoStrawberries
Trust me on this.

We are savers.  Not so much money, but for stuff.  And security.
Perhaps we need to focus more on the money, too.   Seriously.
(It doesn't count you saved money with free stuff.)

Saving for a special occasion or just to know we have?
(this translates to money, too)
Eventually it all turns.  (the freebies and the economy)

We are easily inbred to try and save things, don't use the good stuff, I may need this someday.  I know, because this happened. . .

My Mom had this beautiful bottle of lotion by Revlon, "Aquamarine."  The color, so pretty.  The name, my birthstone.  I would look at it for years on the shelf in the linen closet. Being saved for what?   Obviously for me - a 10 year old me going after at least a 5 year old bottle glop!  I thought I could get away with just opening it and seeing what aquamarines smelled like at least.   But - It...exploded when I twisted off the cap and squeezed!  All over me, my clothes, the clean towels, the shelves, the floor.  And it didn't smell how I thought aquamarines would.

Revlon Aquamarine Body Lotion
Lesson learned then and now, and oft-repeated. . .

Be mindful -- You can have abundance with less.
Start with those drawers and shelves (and linen closets) today and be in the moment to -
-Use and enjoy what you have.
-Keep only what you truly like and need.
-Stop stocking and waiting for the right time.
-If you don't want it, decline or donate.  There are others who will.

Later is now.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Prints Charming

I've been trying to make copies of some of my watercolor projects, with varied results by taking them to professional printers.  One did a fantastic job at a not so fantastic price - Eeek! $$$.  The other tried and used paper I brought in, but the copy really didn't look too much like the original.  Not all the colors and shadings were duplicated.  On its own, not that bad, but compared to the original - Oops.

Now fast forward to Hobby Lobby earlier this week.  Next to the portfolios in their art section, I found Strathmore watercolor and pastel inkjet papers.   The pastel paper was light texture, 80 pound, $12.99 for 25 sheets.   The watercolor was medium texture, cold press finish, 115 pound, $14.99 for 8 sheets.   With the 40% coupon - $8.99.  For a little over a dollar a page, I thought I would give the watercolor paper a try first.

And several tries, I did.
It just kept rolling straight through my Epson 410 XP $99 special printer -- and not printing!
Online reviews have everyone singing  praises about how they can use it to print on all kinds of media.  I tried adjusting the printer settings for media, paper - still just zip, zip rolling right out.  

Paper on top of regular copy paper?  The Strathmore paper ran right through, and then the Epson printed on regular paper.   Granted it did a good job looking watercolor-y, but it wasn't on the watercolor paper.

Then I tried stacking two sheets of Strathmore in the feeder tray.  And, two - run right through.  

I'm almost ready to give up -- but saw in the printer queue there was still one waiting.

This time I held the paper in the paper tray and as it tried once more to grab and run, I gave it just a little tug back and...

I heard the printer start printing!!

Color (print) me impressed!
 Clockwise from left - copy paper, Strathmore watercolor paper, original
I was starting to run low on some of the color cartridges, and I later discovered the option to adjust the size - which would be "custom" to keep the original size and not "fill".  But actually it didn't really distort it too much.   You can definitely see more of the shading and details on the Strathmore watercolor paper compared to the copy paper.

The prints were made from a photograph of my original watercolor.  Next time I will try to copy the original directly on the printer.  I'm not sure if the colors were changed by printing from iPhoto or from the printer.

Another time, another coupon --  the lighter weight pastel/watercolor 80 pound paper, perhaps for stationery and cards.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Friday Faucet

Watercolor Water Faucet
6 1/4" x 6 3/4"

We finally had the water faucet handle replaced with one that actually turns off the water completely!
(including a bonus bit of foam and tape for insulation during our cold weather spell)
During our Hurricane Ike repairs, one of the subcontractors broke off the original faucet (how, I don't want to know) and we had water spewing all over.  They ran to a local hardware store and bought a close, but not quite the right size/the first one/the only one they had.  

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Thursday Tea Time - Something cool to warm you on a cold, rainy day...

This week - The Republic of Tea - Limited Edition Cool Winter Herb Tea - Peppermint Bark 

Cost:  $10.25 online (no longer available),  also can be found at Whole Foods (I will check and add the price next time I'm there) and $15 at Mod Coffeehouse in Galveston...
Number of tea bags:  36
Caffeine: No
Type of tea: Herbal/Rooibos
Mix ins: Not a thing
Fragrance:  Creamy minty
Ingredients:  Organic green rooibos, peppermint, organic cocoa extract, organic vanilla flavor and stevia leaf and natural flavor
Opinion: This reminds me of those pastel yellow, pink and green mints with the white non parriels - that pleasant, creamy minty flavor.  I really didn't taste the chocolate, though - a little disappointing there.  I liked the fact it is a green Rooibos,  I actually had never heard of Green Rooibos.  It was perfectly fine plain and plenty sweet enough without any added sweetener or milk/cream, so that's another check in the win column.  The stevia leaf aftertaste is disguised by the mint, in fact, I was surprised to see it when I was checking the list of ingredients to type.  If you see this in the stores/coffee shops, I would grab it.  It sold out online.  I'm glad I saw it a few months ago when reordering my Get Wellness tea (thank goodness that is still available, I can't find it in the stores anymore).  Hopefully they will bring it back later this year.
Rating: 4.5

This almost looks like one of  those Pinterest pictures
- it is raining in Houston and a perfect tea day today!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Watercolor Wednesday - Purgatory Landscape

14 1/4" x 6 3/4"
Fun finding a frame for this off the rack...!

Actually the Hike and Bike Trails at Purgatory Creek in San Marcos, Texas!

This week, we were working on landscapes with overlapping planes using mid-tones, a la William Anzalone.  I am trying to be more adventurous with color selection and intensity, and brush strokes.  My new size 12, 16 and 20 Round Escoda Prado brushes help immensely, too!   (Thank you, Texas Art Supply for your lower pricing and extra 10% student discount, enabling me to purchase all three at once)  I especially had fun learning how to paint the Opuntia texana (yellow prickly pear cactus) in the center diagonal line.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Hoffman Challenge 2015

M7405 381G Pomegranate Gold

This is the 2015 Hoffman Challenge fabric.   If you click on the link, you'll get all the information about the fabric and the Challenge.

I think the colors and combination are also inspiration for watercoloring.  Teal, hot pink and gold?  Which Hoffman is naming the looks-like-teal-to-me as Indigo in their suggested coordinates.  I may just order some and see. (There is always an excuse to buy fabric, right?)  I'm going to play around with these colors and create my own challenge to myself.  Let the game begin!  I will start a new label on my sidebar - Hoffman Fabric Inspired Watercolor Challenge 2015.  

I don't think I will ever run out of inspiration and things to try and paint in watercolor.  Might as well make it interesting and fun.

Monday, January 19, 2015


Ginger is listed first in the name for a reason!

Over the weekend, I picked up a box of Trader Joe's Just the Clusters Ginger Almond & Cashew granola cereal.  It sounded good.  Even the idea of cashews in cereal.

A serving is 2/3 cup, which when put in a smaller bowl seems more than generous and surprisingly filling.  Calories - 210, total fat 7g (0.5g saturated), sodium 60mg, fiber 2g, sugar 15, protein 4g, total carbohydrate 36g (yeah...)

It is very gingery!  And sweet-hot.  If you like ginger, you would love this.  (The ingredients have two forms of ginger, the crystallized ginger and ginger root)  However, it is almost too-too for eating by itself.  Next time I will add maybe a quarter cup to top my oatmeal.  Or as a topping if baking sweet quick bread or muffins.  I think it is more of a "decoration" cereal instead of a cereal-cereal.

Sunday, January 18, 2015


Photograph of my watercolor palette - I love how French Ultramarine Blue granulates, even in the palette.   While Cobalt Blue is my usual go-to blue when painting, I seem to be using French Ultramarine more decisively lately and really enjoying the a-ha! results.

This was from last week's cherry blossoms project.  I love what it did on the right-hand side of the painting.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Best Tech'd for Spring

Spring is around the corner, but you can get a touch of Spring now with the Vera Bradley tech downloads in Rio, Lucky You and Midnight Stripe.  Click on the link and the downloads are at the end of the page.

Midnight Stripe
Lucky You