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."

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Thursday Tea Time - Pumpkin Spice Chai

This week - Tazo Chai Pumpkin Spice
Cost:   $3.49 at Target
Number of teabags:  20,  individually-wrapped
Caffeine:   Yes
Type of tea:   Black
Ingredients:  Black tea, cinnamon, natural flavors, licorice root, ginger, cloves, black pepper, cardamom.
Steeping time:  5 minutes
Add ins:  A splash of Coffee Mate's Natural Bliss
Fragrance:  Cardamom/pumpkin pie spice
Opinion:   I find I like this more after each mug I drink. Or maybe it's because we are getting deeper into the PSL/Pumpkin Spice Latte season.   I drink it in the afternoon when my sweet tooth tries to make its presence known or if I need a boost of caffeine (31-45 mg).  The licorice and black pepper keep it from becoming too much like liquid pumpkin pie.  This will be nice to drink through Thanksgiving.  I will be going back for another box at the rate I'm going!
Rating:  4

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Watercolor Wednesday - Bird of Paradise

"Bird of Paradise"
6 5/8" x 6 5/8"
For an upcoming birthday card/present, I asked a friend what her favorite flower was.  
(Hoping for something easy, but when have I ever taken the easy way out?)  
"Bird of Paradise!"  
"Really?!"….I replied, trailing off.  
But I thought to myself, I'm up for this, why not!  And how lucky for me we were learning different wash techniques with different brushes in class on Monday.  
I could avoid leaves and just focus on the flower itself by washing shades of green!  Win-win here!  
I really like how it turned out, I hope she does, too!

Blood Moon Eclipse

Blood Moon Eclipse - Houston, Texas - 5:35 AM

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Yogi Cinnamon Vanilla Healthy Skin

This week - Yogi Cinnamon Vanilla Healthy Skin

(Not to be confused with similar sounding Yogi Vanilla Spice Perfect Energy, which I reviewed July 19, 2012)

Cost:   $4.84 at Target, on sale at Kroger for $2.99
Number of teabags:  16,  individually-wrapped
Caffeine:   No
Type of tea:   Herbal
Ingredients:   All organic Nettle Leaf, Mullein Leaf and Schisandra Berry – Ayurvedic herbs traditionally used to hydrate and retain moisture in the skin’s tissues, Cinnamon Bark and Cardamom Seed to support circulation, Cocoa Shells and Vanilla Bean add flavorful intrigue.
Steeping time:  5 minutes (suggested 4-6 minutes)
Add ins:  Perfect as is, but even better with a splash of Coffee Mate's Natural Bliss
Fragrance:  Cinnamon-y
Opinion: Tastes great plain and even better with Natural Bliss - almost like apple pie a la mode.  This could be a very nice afternoon or evening go-to tea this fall.  My daughter thought that the cinnamon made it taste similar to chai.    I did notice their slight price creep, however.  And hey, Yogi Tea - only a $1 coupon?  You used to have $2 coupons!
Rating:  4 (dinging really only about the pricing - I would definitely stock up when it goes on sale, with the previous box's coupon)

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Watercolor Wednesday - Frog Dreaming Update

I thought my watercolor frog needed more oomph - more green, more definition - and here he is.  I'm really happy how he turned out!



Sunday, September 28, 2014

Happy Times, Happy Life

Last week's class was learning to combine watercolor and collage.  

I had torn out the back page of a magazine which had a Chanel watch advertisement I thought it was so pretty.  At first I had set it aside for a potential watercolor inspiration.   Then I thought I would use it as the basis and jumping off point for the collage.  I started thinking of what went along with clocks - time, life, happiness...and it all came together.  

As further proof it is a good thing to shop the clearance/sale sections of art supply stores…I searched my studio and found pretty papers, stencils, a key, Liquid Pearls White Opal, a Sea Blue #1200 Derwent Inktense pencil.….and of course, not missing the opportunity to shop/acquire more artistic goodies - silver leaf!  

I randomly embellished parts of the Chinese letters I painted for "Happy" with the Liquid Pearls - Coco Chanel was all about the pearls!   Added a ring of hieroglyphic black and metallic silver paper around the watch face to make it more interesting, and glued a "Life" key to the hour hand of the watch.  Since the advertisement paper was too slick to paint with watercolor, I used the Derwent pencil to hand-letter "Happy" on the camellia.  The blue-green background I painted first was to represent how I felt to be in the pool swimming, and aquamarine is my daughter's birthstone and mine.  To give it a little more glitz, I thought I would use silver leaf around the edges.  I had never tried gilding before, but it was easy to figure out along the way and I liked the random effect.

Inspiration is all around

Friday, September 26, 2014

Lightning Does Strike Twice!

I love the frame I found at Hobby Lobby!
(Not so much the fluorescent light glare from inside the Exhibit Building)

I submitted --- and I won the First Place blue ribbon! -- my watercolor of a lightning strike at Buck Pond in Rochester, New York.  The inspiration photo was taken by Jamie Montanus of Montanus Photography earlier this year.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Fun With Focus

Love how the raindrops reverse the palm trees!

Rainy day in Galveston at Stewart Beach. . .

This week - Guayaki Yerba Mate Pure Empower Mint

Cost:   $6.49 at Whole Foods
Number of teabags:  16,  individually-wrapped
Caffeine:   Yes, 20 mg/serving - 1/4 cup of coffee equivalent
Type of tea:   Herbal
Ingredients:   All organic - Yerba mate, peppermint leaf, spearmint leaf and stevia leaf.
Steeping time:  I need to check the water temperature of the Keurig, I noticed on the box it says not to drink mate over 150 F. I don't know if that means the water brewing temperature or letting it cool down to 150.  Which wouldn't really be a problem since I get to doing other things and get distracted from my tea on the counter.
Add ins:  Perfect without any.
Fragrance:  Like a peppermint version of Morning Thunder.  A little earthy.
Opinion:   I like Trader Joe's Yerba Mate.   But what this has going for it is the mint flavor, which has a pleasant warming effect.  You feel it in a few seconds after sipping right in your upper chest.  This might be nice to drink when you have a cold and need a little decongesting and to get your health back on track.   And it doesn't keep me up at night.  I place it safe, however and only drink it in the morning - or early afternoon if I need a boost and it's going to be a long day.
Rating:  3.75

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Fabric is to sewing, as paper is to

Check out my latest find -- A Clearprint Vellum Field Book!  It just arrived at Texas Art Supply.  Cool protective Vellum cover, too.  The book is actually bright "Clearprint Orange" underneath.  This is going to be so fun to try out watercoloring.   The tip sheet inside has lots of great effects ideas for working with the transparency of vellum.
The 6" x 8" 50 sheet size I finally decided upon retails for $12.95 - but with Texas Art Supply's pricing and my discount, it came home with me for $8.16

7:19 AM

September Sunrise - Houston, Texas

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Free Penzeys Northwoods Seasoning Coupon

The new Harvest 2014 catalog has a free 1/2 cup jar of Northwoods Seasoning coupon - the online ordering code is 22150C.  This is one of my favorites - I like to use it on chicken, but it is versatile enough for beef, pork, and even potatoes.

They always have such good recipes in their catalogs --
I know I'm going to try their Gingerbread Cake Mix, if it looks as good as the photo, this could be a potential cute gift for the holidays, either as a mix or baked and given.    And to keep on hand for a quick fix.
Gingerbread Cake Mix

(I do this with my pizza dough, mix all the dry ingredients and store in a ziploc in my pantry.)

Monday, September 22, 2014

Follow the Signs

Two of the very first awards we earned as Junior Girl Scouts were "The Sign of the Arrow" and "The Sign of the Star."

The Sign of the Arrow says "this is the way" on the path of Girl Scouting.
In the requirement section of the second-hand Junior handbook I bought, one of the requirements (#8 "Get together with another troop to meet new girls and do something together") completed noted a "Camp-In at Foley's"   I can only imagine the fun they would have had in Houston's best 9-story downtown department store!

The Sign of the Star says "A star shines in all directions and guides you along the way" on to new and bigger adventures in Girl Scouting.

These awards were established in 1963, replacing the Second Class Award.

1963 was quite the pivotal year in Girl Scouting.  The establishment of four age levels of Girl Scouting -- Brownie, Junior, Cadette and Senior -- with corresponding handbooks, and official dress uniforms (with white gloves!)

Sunday, September 21, 2014


Source:  The Facebook Page of The Yoga Haven - Galveston, Texas
Visiting Galveston Island?  Going on a cruise?  Be sure to check The Yoga Haven schedule and Hooked on Acupuncture next door to complete your Island relaxation getaway.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

This week - Tazo Chai Pumpkin Spice

Cost:   $3.00 on sale at Super Target
Number of teabags:  20,  individually-wrapped
Caffeine:   Yes
Type of tea:    Black
Ingredients:   Black teas, cinnamon, natural flavors, licorice root, ginger, cloves, black pepper, cardamom
Steeping time:  The box says 5 minutes, but it developed a bitter aftertaste.  The second time I kept at at 3 minutes, much better!
Add ins:   Sweet Bliss makes it seem like pumpkin pie!
Fragrance:  Pumpkin and ginger
Opinion:   One of two new seasonal offerings from Tazo.  (watch for an upcoming review of Tazo Chai Vanilla Caramel next week).  Pumpkin is showing up everywhere - even in Hershey's Kisses! Something told me to give this another chance.  The first cup had a strange, bitter aftertaste, with or without adding milk and sugar.  I liked it better the second time.  You can detect the pumpkin in the first sip and then it definitely has a surprising pepper aftertaste kick.  Interesting Autumn twist on Chai.
Rating:  3.25

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Orange you glad to see this?

"Oranges unwrapped and wrapped  in tissue paper on a pane of glass in front of green fabric"
This is definitely a class practice piece, but you can see where/when I started to get the hang of painting reflections in glass and fabric folds with light and shadow.  Learning and making progress!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Almond Blueberry Pear Tart

Almond Blueberry Pear Tart
It's Fall and that means time to get back into the kitchen and bake!

This is my variation of the Pear Tart recipes circulating around the Internet and Pinterest.
I had a two pound bag of red bartlet pears from Trader Joe's, while pretty, were ripening pretty fast.  I peeled and sliced them yet they didn't quite fill the tart pan.  So I added a couple handfuls of frozen blueberries - about a cup, to fill in the spaces.

Filling - 1 3/4 cups of sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut up.  (Next time I'm dialing back the sugar to 1 1/2 cups.)
Mix sugar and flour together.  Add bits of butter.  Mix with fingers until crumbly.  Distribute over fruit.

Bake at 425 for 30 minutes
If crust is starting to brown too quickly, adjust oven temperature to 375 and bake an additional 10-15 minutes or until filling is bubbly.   Sprinkle toasted almond slivers on top.
Let cool, and top with BlueBell Homemade Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream and enjoy!

Here's my Fool Proof Pie Crust recipe from Good Housekeeping magazine.

For a 9" baked pie shell or tart:

1 1/3 cup(s) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon(s) salt
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut up
3 tablespoons vegetable shortening
2-5 tablespoons ice water (I usually end up using about 2 1/2, since Houston is so humid)

In food processor with knife blade attached, blend flour and salt.
Add butter and shortening, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Sprinkle in ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing after each addition, until large moist crumbs just begin to form.

Shape dough into disk; wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes or overnight.
(If chilled overnight, let dough stand 30 minutes at room temperature before rolling.)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. On lightly floured surface, with floured rolling pin, roll dough into 12-inch round. Ease dough round into 9-inch glass or ceramic pie plate. Gently press dough against bottom and up sides of plate without stretching. Trim dough edge, leaving 1-inch overhang. Fold overhang under; pinch to form stand-up edge, then make decorative edge.

Freeze pie shell 15 minutes.
Line pie shell with foil or parchment, and fill with pie weights, dried beans, or uncooked rice. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until beginning to set. Remove foil with weights, and bake 13 to 15 minutes longer or until golden. If shell puffs up during baking, gently press it down with back of spoon. Cool on wire rack until ready to fill.

Nutritional information is based on 1/10 of a pie shell.
To make Deep-Dish Baked Pie Shell: Prepare 9-Inch Baked Pie Shell as above, but increase all-purpose flour to 1 1/2 cups and vegetable shortening to 1/4 cup. Ease dough into 9 1/2-inch deep-dish pie plate.

Each 1/10 of the pie shell: About 165 calories, 2 g protein, 14 g carbohydrate, 11 g total fat (5 g saturated), 1 g fiber, 16 mg cholesterol, 120 mg sodium.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Watercolor Wednesday - Regina's Sunflower

"How wonderful yellow is, it stands for the sun" ~ Vincent Van Gogh

…and sunflowers!

I've been having fun painting and using yellow lately. Perhaps because I feel autumn in the air, even if our air temperature is still in the mid to upper 90's. . . I can still try to incorporate the mood with my paintbrush, inside my air-conditioned home.

Watercolor Wednesday - Colorful Black and White

The fall semester of my watercolor class began on Monday.  We focused on painting and using color in black and white - there is only one tiny, unpainted area in this picture!  I wanted to give it an autumnal and abstract feel with a band of yellow at the top.

I was trying to take the photo outside in the Houston humidity and the edges kept curling.  It is an even band of color ; )

Monday, September 08, 2014

Netflix Stars - Quartet

4.5 - We started out watching The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, which was so awful, I won't even bother with a review.   Dustin Hoffman directed, and they must have had a blast making this.  Many in the cast were indeed retired musicians (watch for the credit roll).  You will thoroughly enjoy this, too.