Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Sisterhood of the Traveling Paints

(The catchier Have Watercolors, Will Travel was already taken by fellow blogger and author and artist, Maria Elena Sandovici -- do check out her blog and book and watercolors!)


I found these little 3-inch boxes in the clearance section of Hobby Lobby.

I believe they were originally traveling earring/jewelry cases for girlie party favors.   But I when saw the compartmentalized insert was one seamless piece of plastic, I thought it could store a couple of paints for a make-shift palette.  Perhaps the little dibs and dabs of colors I don't use that often and therefore won't take up valuable real estate on my portable class palette.

The glittery rhinestones??  Bonus!!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Try It Tuesday - Coco-Doodles Cookie Recipe

Coco-Doodles!

Coconut Snickerdoodles!  

Instead of rolling in cinnamon sugar, you use coconut and some sparkling sugar!

This could be a contender for Christmas Cookie 2014.   I thought/hoped the coconut would look a little bit "snowy," though I am tempted to also roll them in some red and green jimmies, too.
Next time, I might sub out some (a 1/4 cup perhaps first try?) of the flour for the Trader Joe's Coconut Flour!

INGREDIENTS

1½ cups sweetened shredded coconut - look for the "Fancy" kind, it is a finer and smaller shred and
you can skip a step in the preparation
1 cup shortening
1½ cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2¾ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
Sparking sugar, optional

INSTRUCTIONS

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
2) In a high-speed blender or food processor, pulse coconut until finely shredded. Pour into a shallow bowl. Set aside.  (I skipped this step)
3) In a large bowl, cream shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well.
4) Add  dry ingredients into a medium bowl. Add to creamed mixture; mix until just combined.
5) Roll dough into 1" balls  Roll in the coconut. (add sparkling/sanding sugar, if you want)  Place 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.
6) Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges and just barely set in the center.

Remove to wire racks to cool.
Makes about 3 dozen cookies

Monday, August 25, 2014

Sunday Sketching - The Cool Coast Camp

Cool old building in Rockport, Texas
This is the sketch for my next watercolor. I'm looking forward to using my new Qor paint!
I find Sunday afternoons are a perfect air-conditioned escape from the August heat for sketching out upcoming projects… while cracking up watching "Hot in Cleveland" reruns.  I adore Wendie Malick - loved her in "Just Shoot Me," too.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Hey Jack Kerouac

"Listen to the silence inside the illusion of the world and you will remember the lesson you forgot"
~ Jack Kerouac

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Squeee!


I am an easy touch for cool packaging!
(A special shout out to the Jenna Hipp nail polish in "Ooh La Latte")
Special Saturday treat from hubby - the QOR Earth Colors palette!  It has six 5 ml watercolor tubes in this cool tin.  The colors are Raw Umber (Natural), Indigo, Sap Green, Venetian Red, Transparent Brown Oxide and Naples Yellow.   I'm looking forward to giving them a swirl.
Kudos to QOR for making easy-to-read labels and easy-to-identify color
(take note Winsor Newton with your new tube labeling!)
I bet you could also use the left side/lid as a palette, too!
(And the right side - that plastic holder is removable.)
P.S.  You can find the Jenna Hipp nail polishes at Costco.  $7.99 (they had a $2 instant rebate a few weeks ago) to $9.99 for a set of 8, along with a bonus nail file.  I really like them, they don't chip and come in cool colors.  My left thumb (actually all my fingernails) was polished in "Ooh La Latte" - kind of a pretty purple gray*  from "The New Moderns" collection.
*(Seriously, if I ordered a latte and it came out in that color, I would send it back.  But I love it in a nail polish!)
You can also my left thumb in Wednesday's Cards of Color.  And further testimony to its unchippedness, I polished my nails on Monday.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Upcoming Jo-Ann's Pattern Sales

Labor Day Sale - August 29 - September 1
McCall's - $1.99
Vogue  - $4.99

September 4/6
Simplicity $1.99

And a coupon on the back of the flyer for 60% off any one regular-priced fabric, August 24/28.
(But watch, as usual most fabric will be on sale.)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

This week - Trader Joe's Original Irish Breakfast Black Tea 


Cost:   $2.99
Number of teabags:  80 (!) tea rounds, vacuum-packed in two "gold" metallic wrappers
Teabag "coin" from the gold wrapper.
I was trying to figure out something witty to say about a tea-
pot and gold and coin…
Perhaps I need to drink another mug of this stuff
and wait for a leprechaun to appear.


Caffeine:   Yes
Type of tea:    Black
Ingredients:   Black tea
Steeping time:   3 minutes
Add ins:   Glug of Natural Bliss cream
Fragrance:  Earthy
Opinion:   The more I drank it, the more I liked it. Plain and black-no way.  You really need milk and sugar, or that Natural Bliss.  And make it light, almost matching the tan box color.  It is very strong. Use two teabags for emergency caffeination only.   I've even dialed down the steeping time, setting the timer for 3 minutes as soon as the Keurig starts.  There is an almost astringent aftertaste if you brew it stronger or try it plain.  I still prefer English Breakfast teas, but this isn't bad as soon as you figure out how to play with it.

Whoa!  Stand back!
It's a beautiful reddish color, though!

Rating:  3 - Would I buy it again? With 80 teabags?!  This is probably a year-long supply for me, even giving splitting the box to my daughter.  Though I do think this would be a fun St. Patrick's Day gift.  As usual, the Trader Joe's box designs are fun, there is even a four-leaf clover on the side!


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Cards of Color

Soft Primary, Greyscale, Sepia, Primary, Fluorescent

Score!  I thought I would give these Tombow Irojiten colored pencils a chance, especially at almost half price.  I loved how they grouped the colors together.  They had me when I read the Fluorescent color pack could be seen under black light.  Way to accent some potential watercolors with snap!  Shhh!  I actually like these a bit better than Prisma colored pencils.   They sharpened quite easily and well, and applied smoother and seemed more velvety, even on just scrap paper.  Color me impressed!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Two-Fer Tuesday



When I originally came up with the idea for my Adams Extract watercolor painting, I was going to include a vanilla bean next to the bottle.  But the cute frame I had in mind was just the perfect size for the bottle only.  I decided to put the vanilla bean to good use, not only once but twice - pairing it together with the Ball Mason jar and making vanilla sugar!
(Maybe even turn this watercoloring adventure into a three-fer and make these Vanilla Shortbread Cookies again?!)

Monday, August 18, 2014

Chocolate Chip Muffins - Light and Healthy - and versatile!

This is my go-to healthy muffins recipe from the September/October 1992 issue of Pillsbury Fast and Healthy magazine.  Not only is it yummy, but you can go from beginning to eating within 30 minutes!

This is the basic Lite Muffins recipe with variations to suit what you have on hand.  It has about a third less oil than a standard muffin recipe.

Chocolate Chip Lite Muffins
in my Pampered Chef stone baker


LITE MUFFINS

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
3 tablespoons oil (I use canola)
1 egg, beaten

Heat oven to 375 (400 per original recipe).  Line a 12-muffin cup pan with paper baking cups.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Mix well.
In a 2 cup measuring cup (or a small bowl, this way with the measuring cup it is one less item to wash)
combine milk, oil, and egg - blend well.
Add to dry ingredients; stir just until dry ingredients are moistened.
Divide batter evenly among paper-lined muffin cups.
Bake at 375 for 18-23 minutes or until light golden brown.
Cool 1 minute, remove from pan.
Serve warm

Chocolate chip muffins - add 3/4 cup chocolate chips to dry mix
Apple muffins - decrease sugar to 1/4 cup and add 1 teaspoon cinnamon to flour, stir 1 cup finely chopped, peeled apple into dry ingredients.  Substitute apple juice for milk
Blueberry muffins - Stir 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries and 1/4 teaspoon Penzeys Cake Spice into dry ingredients
Jam muffins - Before baking, place 1/2 teaspoon of your favorite jam on each muffin; press into batter.  If desired, sprinkle with finely chopped nuts
Lemon muffins - Add one tablespoon grated lemon peel to dry ingredients
Orange muffins - Add one tablespoon grated orange peel to dry ingredients and substitute orange juice for milk
Streusel-topped muffins - In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar, 1 tablespoon softened butter, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 cup chopped nuts or flaked coconut; blend with fork until crumbly.  Sprinkle over muffins before baking
Sugar-coated muffins - Brush tops of hot muffins with orange juice, dip in mixture of 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Whole wheat muffins - Use one cup all purpose flour and 1 cup whole wheat flour


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Whiteflies on Moonflowers??

Problem Solved!

We may have lost the battle, but not the war. There is still time in Texas to plant and start again! 
  
“My heart found its home long ago in the beauty, mystery, order and disorder of the flowering earth.”
~Lady Bird Johnson

Friday, August 15, 2014

Extract, the colors


I've started snapping a picture of my palette after finishing a project.
It can tell a story as much as the painting does!  -- the colors I used, the colors that didn't work. . .(like that odd yellow-tan!  haha!)  This what I used for the Adams Vanilla Extract watercolor.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

This week - Stash White Chocolate Mocha
Pretty box design!

Cost:   $2.99 at Ross
Number of teabags:  18, individually-wrapped
Caffeine:   Yes
Type of tea:    Black
Ingredients:   Cocoa shells, black tea, cinnamon, natural tiramisu flavor, natural coffee flavor, natural chocolate flavor, natural white chocolate flavor
Steeping time:   4 minutes
Add ins:   Splash of Natural Bliss cream
Fragrance:  Wish it tasted as good as the teabag.
Opinion:   Another surprise tea find at Ross in New Braunfels, Texas.  The "Compare At" price  is $4.99. Glad I only paid $2.99.  I thought it would be better - White Chocolate Mocha?  Sounds yummy and delish, right?  I like/love cinnamon, but in this combination, no.  It does finish with a nice chocolate aftertaste, but the cinnamon just overpowers it, oddly.
Rating:  1, only because I like all the ingredients.  Just not all together in this tea.
even the wrapper and tag look like chocolate!

Pretty color, but oddly the tea was cloudy
(perhaps it was all the cinnamon, or
the cocoa shells?!)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Threading Your Viking Husqvarna 1100 - Bobbin Winding

There are two ways to wind your bobbin on the Viking Husqvarna 1100.  And with the 1100, Viking began the concave plastic bobbins, so it is now foolproof to wind your bobbin and insert into the bobbin case correctly!  When you insert the empty bobbin on the winder, make sure the concave curve of the bobbin curves into (hugs) the sewing machine.  (Think "Bobbin Love")

Depending where you are in your project, you can wind your bobbin and not unthread the machine! The one part of the instructions I don't follow is to keep the needle threaded.  I tried that once.   I feel the needle eye can cause the thread to shred and gives it unnecessary tension if you like to wind fast.   It can also bend the needle.  I know, I should slow down.  And perhaps wind a few extra bobbins in the beginning.

The 1100 also has an extra thread spindle, which I like to use with the second option.  Especially if I am running out of thread on one spool and have set it aside specifically for bobbin winding or hand sewing.  I don't have to unthread just to wind the remaining bit on the spool.    Raise your hand if you are sewing the very last two inches of a seam or hem and that's when you run out!  Ignoring the beep-beep the 1100 sounds as you get toward the end of the bobbin.  Of course, it won't beep-beep if you didn't clean your machine after your last project and lint is blocking the sensor…live on the edge, sew off the edge!

(For those of you landing on this post first, here is the link to my post on how to thread your Husqvarna Viking 1100 sewing machine.)

Husqvarna Viking 1100 Front (machine remains threaded)
Bobbin Winding thread layout

Viking Husqvarna 1100 Side Winding or Direct Winding
 Bobbin Thread Layout








This is good to know for older Viking Husqvarna's,
even if you don't use the concave bobbins

Haha!
Good luck gambling with Murphy's Law on how far you can sew!


Bonus information!  If you decide you need to fiddle with the bobbin thread tension control when doing some off the seam decorative stitching. . .the best advice I received was to purchase an extra bobbin case.  And mark it with nail polish so you don't get it mixed up.
I have never, ever had to adjust the bobbin tension on my 1100.  And I realize once you start messing with screws, you either lose them or lose the tightness/factory settings.  Then you are screwed, if that was your only case.
If you want to do bobbin work with decorative threads, you will need to loosen that bobbin case tension.  There are two screws on the 1100 bobbin case.  The one you need to adjust is the one closest to the thread, or the largest one.  Play in 1/4 increments, turning the screw no more at a time.  And have fun!
Do you know you can use up to 4-ply yarn in your bobbin??   Now you do!
If you can wind it by hand and thread it through the throat plate, you can sew with it!

Threading Your Viking Husqvarna 1100

I bought my Viking 1100 in 1989, when it was considered top-of-the-line.  I've had and used it all these  years without any problems other than a couple of tune-ups/cleaning.  This was the last machine Viking Husqvarna produced before they went full-tilt into embroidering sewing machines, beginning with the #1 and #1 Plus (#1+).  The 1100 is a gem and apparently there are still quite a few used machines  popping up.  Grab one if you find one.  I adore mine.

Anyways a few years ago, I sung my machine's praises on a sewing machine meme on the Sew Mama Sew website.  Here is the link to my June 7, 2009 blog post.

Fortunately because it is very user-friendly, it is unfortunate the 1100 had a small, slim instruction book-let...which the odds of it still being with the machine if you find it used, are pretty remote.  However, there are a couple of solutions.

One, I took pictures of my threaded machine so you can see how simple it is.

Two, there are two books you may still be able to find, written for Viking Husqvarna sewing machines.    Check Amazon (Amazon currently has several used copies of both, starting at 1 cent!  One penny!  The shipping in the US is around $3.99),  eBay or your library, which can also do an Inter-Library Loan if they do not have it on their shelves.  This was a great series of books in the late 80's/early 90's.  I had friends even snap up the other machine books because they were so well-written and had such a great presentation of learning to have fun with your sewing machine, of any brand.

A Step-By-Step Guide toYour Viking
By Jan Saunders

The better of the two is "A Step By Step Guide to Your Viking" by Jan Saunders.  It has a photo of the 1100 on the cover.  If you have the 1100 or even the #1 or #1+, you will have fun with this book as your machine's companion.  Published by Chilton Book Company, 1991.  The ISBN is 0-8019-8014-3  Library Call No. 646.2    244 pages, paperback.  Not only does it have cool projects, but it is the definitive book on all the stitches on your cassettes from A-D.  (Husqvarna Viking subsequently updated the 1100 with two more most interesting stitch cassettes (eyes -F21 & F22 and a mouth -F23 to use on doll faces!), the E and F, before focusing on the #1+ and thereafter machines.)  And the standard and also most of the cool specialty presser feet for the 1100 and its 900 series predecessor.

Know Your Viking
By Jackie Dodson with Jan Saunders

And if you happen to have found a 900 series Viking Husqvarna, particularly the 990 which came out before the 1100  (I had the 940 before I traded it in for the 1100), you'll want to try and find "Know Your Viking" by Jackie Dodson with Jan Saunders.  Also published by Chilton in 1988, ISBN: 0-8019-7870-X  194 pages, paperback. More fun projects and tricks.  This book really helps explain how to design and use Pictograms.  You will want and need to look for this one, too!

Threading your Viking 1100 is easy -- the only hole you need to thread is the needle eye!  The process is all glide and slide.

I may even try to do a iPhone video later, and you can see how fast and easy it is to thread your Husqvarna Viking 1100!

I have a separate post next about winding your bobbin.  

My machine likes the thread coming from the back of the spool
and in the horizontal position
Different thread brands may flow better off the spool if it is upright



First thread guide-it just slides right around and in
Side view
See?  It catches and goes right in.


I usually place my thread  in the thread guide to the right
But if you are using two threads, put one on either side!
The thread also slides easily into the take-up lever seen on the left

Slides right into the check-spring, too

I like to put my spool and bobbin threads up and out of the way
They are actually being held by the side thread cutter!

This is from the Step-By-Step Guide to Your Viking

From the 1100 manual

From the 1100 manual




Sunday, August 10, 2014

Get Lost…and Found

My early 1970's Cadette Girl Scout "Explorer" Badge
Orient yourself to the moment, the world, your soul.

"Lost really has two disparate meanings. Losing things is about the familiar falling away, getting lost is about the unfamiliar appearing."

Think about that. 

"There are objects and people that disappear from your sight or knowledge or possession; you lose a bracelet, a friend, the key. You still know where you are. Everything is familiar except that there is one item less, one missing element. 

Or you get lost, in which case the world has become larger than your knowledge of it.

Imagine yourself streaming through time shedding gloves, umbrellas, wrenches, books, friends, homes, names. This is what the view looks like if you take a rear-facing seat on the train. 

Looking forward you constantly acquire moments of arrival, moments of realization, moments of discovery. The wind blows your hair back and you are greeted by what you have never seen before. The material falls away in onrushing experience. It peels off like skin from a molting snake." 

Rebecca Solnit - A Field Guide to Getting Lost

Notwithstanding the airborne snake skin metaphor (I don't like snakes at all), she makes good directional points.  Let go, and leave your soul open to discover the unfamiliar and new moments. 


Saturday, August 09, 2014

A to Z Blogging Challenge - X is for Extract

X is for eXtract
As in Adams Best Vanilla Extract and proudly made in TeXas.
(Perhaps I can also knock out W for Andy Warhol Moment?
Did you know that if you take a whiff of vanilla extract before eating, you may eat less?  Vanilla can trick your brain into thinking you've eaten more than you have, so if you listen to your body's cues you will feel fuller sooner.  It's also good for repelling mosquitos - combine equal parts water and vanilla extract in a spray bottle. (2 ounces of each is a good amount) and spray onto your skin.  Mosquitos do not like the smell of vanilla.  Who knew?!

Friday, August 08, 2014

Upcoming Jo-Ann's Pattern Sales


Seven Days of Savings Sale - August 10/16

McCall's - 99 cents

August 21/23 - Butterick 3 for $5

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Thursday Tea Time - Breakfast Served All Day - Part 3

This week - Revolution English Breakfast Tea


Cost:   $2.99 at Ross (!) in New Braunfels, Texas
Number of teabags:  16 individual "infusers" stored inside a resealable foil pouch
Caffeine:   Yes
Type of tea:    Black
Ingredients:   Ceylon and Assam black teas
Steeping time:   3 minutes
Add ins:   Splash of Natural Bliss cream
Fragrance:  Fruity
Opinion:   I seem to have become addicted to English Breakfast tea for my first cup of tea in the morning.  They have a nice kick and good flavor.  (Sometimes in the morning, a caramel tea is not tops on your list.  I prefer those in the afternoon or evening to keep me from the cookie jar/cake & pie pan.) This is a pretty good, split-the-difference English Breakfast tea between Trader Joe's and Harney & Sons.    Not as smokey as H & S, not a lightweight like TJ's.   It has a very pleasant malty aftertaste, too.  And yes, I did find this at Ross!  They do carry teas at very reasonable prices.  I found this one near the checkout counter.  And the expiration date is January 2016, just in case you are thinking, as I did, it must be close to it.   Not only can you Dress for Less at Ross, but Drink Tea for Less at Ross.
Rating:  3.75

Brews to a pretty color in three minutes


Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Watercolor Wednesday - Everything's bigger in Texas!

"Big Blue Crab" in Rockport, Texas
Watercolor, 11-3/4" x 9-1/2"
My finished watercolor of the World's Largest Big Blue Crab in Rockport, Texas!
(11 3/4" x 9 1/2")
Here's the link to the sketch
I'm really happy how it turned out, I worked it wet in wet, and dry-brushed the water.  (Like how the Arches paper watermark is in the water?!)

Monday, August 04, 2014

Today's iPod Workout Song

Mick McAuley & Winifred Horan - "To Make You Feel My Love" - 4:42

Such a pretty version of this song!

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Renewal

Sunrise
December 29, 2012
Houston, Texas
“Renew thyself completely each day.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

Friday, August 01, 2014

Fall 2014 Vera Bradley Wallpaper

Click here for the Fall 2014 Vera Bradley colors in African Violet, Pink Swirls and Ziggy Zinnia  wallpaper/screensaver downloads for your phone, tablet and computer.

African Violet

Pink Swirls

Ziggy Zinnia