Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Wednesday Work in Progress - Watercolor Wednesday

I finished the watercolor picture from last week - it just needed some darker greens and more yellow, and of course more purple, floated in.  And a little bit of bravery from me.

(Inspiration from William C. Hook's "Asters and Chamisa")



Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Ice, Ice Houston

….Silent, silver, endless, dreamy.
~Susan Orlean

Katie Ruellia - Katie Brrruelia 

Winter 2014, Round Two

Friday, January 24, 2014

Winter Wonderland - Houston Style!

Friday's "Wintery Mix" basically shut down the City of Houston.  Traveling was strongly discouraged, so I heeded the call instead to take photographs in 29 degrees!

Nope, not going anywhere!

Frozen Salvia

Frozen raindrop on Asclepia/Milkweed leaf
Love this picture!
More frozen leaves - Magnolia edition
Some stuff stayed on the ground for a little bit
My poinsettia was under here - did it make it through?

Probably even appreciated the extra bit of darkness, too.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Thursday Tea Time - Dunkin' Goes Green

This week - Dunkin' Donuts Green Tea
Cost:   $5.99
Number of teabags:   20
Caffeine:  Very little
Type of tea:   Green
Steeping time:  3-5 minutes, per box
Add ins:  Natural Bliss Sweet Cream or plain with honey
Ingredients:  100% green tea
Fragrance:   Grassy, sweet
Opinion:  I like that this tea was sourced by a member of the Ethical Tea Partnership.  But...Dunkin should stick with coffee.  I tried this several times.  The first time I thought was my fault and may have over steeped it.  Very bitter.  And with a nasty aftertaste.   Even after I added the Sweet Cream.  Next, I timed it for 3 minutes and just added a little bit of honey.  That was awful, too.  And then trying to save it, I added a little bit of milk.  Nope!  I even checked the box, the expiration is August 2015.   I was very disappointed and didn't even send this in with hubby to work.  Your mileage may vary, the reviews on their website were all 5 stars.
Rating:  -0  (yup, that's a minus zero)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Wednesday Work in Progress - Cloud Computing

Inspired by William C. Hook's "Asters and Chamisa"
I will finish this next week -- I still need to add the darker greens and texture to the bottom third.
Nailed the clouds, though!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Rough Stuff

Last week's watercolor class was learning and working with texture.  This was done on Rough watercolor paper with the addition of a white China barrel pencil.  It actually removed and covered some the paint and revealed the texture of the paper.  Very cool!  And a glaze of Cobalt Blue midrange helped add definition and made the colors sing.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Love is on the street...

Trees are the earth's endless effort to speak to the listening heaven. 
 ~Rabindranath Tagore, Fireflies, 1928

Taken on Main Street along Rice University campus, January 2014.  
I actually took several pictures of this tree, but this was the first shot and I didn't even notice the cobalt purple light until after I got home.  

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Caramel & Chais - Sweet, Warm and Spicy

Cost:   Bigelow - $2.29 - $2.59 at Kroger
Zhena's - $6.99 at Cost Plus World Market
Number of teabags:   Bigelow - 20
Zhena's - 22 
Caffeine:   Bigelow - Yes 
Zhena's - No
Type of tea:   Bigelow - Black
Zhena's - Red/Rooibos 
Steeping time:  Bigelow - 5 minutes
Zhena's - 6 minutes
Add ins:  Natural Bliss Sweet Cream or Vanilla Almond milk
Ingredients:  Bigelow Caramel Chai:  Black tea, molasses crystals, spices, natural caramel chai flavor with other natural flavors (soy lecithin)
Bigelow Vanilla Caramel:  Black tea, natural and artificial flavors (soy lecithin)
Zhena's:  All organic Rooibos, cinnamon, ginger root, licorice root, natural flavoring, cloves, cardamom, nutmeg, black pepper and vanilla bean
Fragrance:   Bigelow Caramel Chai - Faint molasses and spice
Bigelow Vanilla Caramel - Strong caramel and faint vanilla.
Zhena's - Cinnamon and cardamom
Opinion:   Two great flavors, times three.  Of all, I like Zhena's combination the best.  And that it is Rooibos, I can drink this after dinner as a dessert tea without worrying about caffeine.  I find with the Bigelow teas lately I need to use two teabags to get a good flavor.  I put one in the mug and the other through the Keurig My K-Cup Even then it is not that strong.  Surprisingly the Vanilla Caramel is a little bit more flavorful and better than the Caramel Chai.  I have even combined one teabag each of Vanilla Caramel and Caramel Chai.  Not a bad combination.  I like that Zhena's is Fair Trade, mostly organic (not counting the "natural flavoring") and has antioxidants from the Rooibos.  Plus clove and cinnamon aromatherapy -- clove is for memory enhancement and cinnamon for warming and balancing.
Neither tea needs any additional sweetener other than the sugars already in the Natural Bliss or Vanilla Almond milk.  But if it is not an issue for you, a teaspoonful does bring out the flavor and sweetness a bit more.   I also like Bigelow's clever barcode!  
Rating:  Bigelow - 3
Zhena's - 4
Cool barcode design!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Wednesday Work in Progress - Watercolor Poppies

"Poppies on Fire"
More fun with the Fiona Peart's 30 Minute Art Watercolor book.  I was practicing the wet-in-wet technique, and liked how these turned out!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Friday, January 10, 2014

Friday Flowers Following Freeze

Despite two nights of hard freezes for the Houston area, the Penny Red Blotch pansy survived!

Upcoming Jo-Ann's Pattern Sales - All patterns on sale!

Winter Warm-Up Sale - January 12/18

Simplicity 5 for $5

January 19/21
Burda $2.49

Sew Shop Save - January 19/25
50% off interfacing by the yard
$1 black and white Coats & Clark 400 yard spools of thread

January 23/25
McCall's $1.99

Two Day Sale - January 31/February 1
Vogue $4.99
Butterick $1.99

January 12/February 1
40% off Gutermann thread

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Thursday Tea Time - Trader Joe's Spiced Chai

This week - Trader Joe's Spiced Chai

Cost:   $1.99 at Trader Joe's
Number of teabags:   20
Caffeine:   Yes
Type of tea:   Black Assam
Steeping time:  6 minutes
Add ins:  Natural Bliss Sweet Cream or Vanilla Almond milk
Ingredients:  Black tea, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, cardamom, Chinese Star anise, black pepper, nutmeg, roasted chicory, natural flavor and vanilla bean
Fragrance:   Nutmeg, cloves, cardamom
Opinion:   Points for additional flavors to traditional chai.  I like the anise and vanilla bean and chicory. Great combination!  This tea is a bargain at only $1.99!  And even had the more upscale tea squared pouches versus a bag with a string.  It's definitely a contender and able to stand up to the more expensive chai teas.    I've happily doubled the tea bags and made (and drank) a huge mug of this when I've wanted a caffeinated chai kick.   I'm running back to Trader Joe's to get more (…and maybe more of those dark chocolate covered almonds, too?)
Rating:  4

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Tree of Love

Practicing along with Fiona Peart's 30 Minute Art Watercolor book

as a warm up for my new watercolor class starting on Monday…I was setting down the paint on the palette with my new Hake brush to make this tree -- and the heart appeared!
Winsor & Newton Permanent Rose and Van Gogh Olive Green

Friday, January 03, 2014

Poinsettia Update - January 2014

I love how the stems turn bright red, too.

Here is this year's edition, I found it at Trader Joe's for $5.99.  .  .

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Here's to 2014!

New Year, New Creative Ideas
My ├╝ber web/computer creative sister (see the Portable Snowman) came up with this cool calendar you can download and print.  She found all these cool and obscure holidays, which could have gone by uncelebrated.

Lots of ideas to pre-empt writer's and crafter's block and open up those creative energy chakras this year.
These would make fun and doable blog challenges, projects for homeschooling, Scouts, preschool, the office. . .themed baking and treats. . .Seasonal avatars for your Facebook and other social media sites.  Even ideas for Random Acts of Kindness.  I'm sure you'll find lots of inspiration and opportunities for smiles throughout the year, too.  Don't let Bacon Day take you by surprise again this year!

And as a special discount to my bloggy friends, she's offering a discount of $3.22 with the Coupon Code:  kent322  

Go to her blog website for the calendar and other postings.   Or click here!

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!!