Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A to Z Blogging Challenge - Z is for Zingiber Officinale

Z is for Zingiber Officinal

ginger rhizome
Ginger not only tastes great, but it has many great health benefits, too.    Ginger is used quite effectively to ease nausea caused from morning sickness and motion sickness.  They are also studying how ginger can help reduce the pain and inflammation of arthritis.

Friday, April 25, 2014

A to Z Blogging Challenge - V is for Violet

African Violet
Saintpaulia ionantha

Please note, the African Violet is NOT considered edible!

(This is actually a sneak peak at my Mom's birthday gift)

"Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it."
– Mark Twain

Free Penzeys Fajita Seasoning Coupon

The new Penzeys Spices Early Summer catalog has a coupon for a free jar of Fajita Seasoning.
Click on the link to redeem when you order online or use Coupon Code 21458C for telephone orders.
This is a good one - a $7.29 value!  You can use it on fajitas, naturally, but also tacos and to add a little kick to your pasta salad.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

A to Z Blogging Challenge - U is for Urtica Dioica

U is for Urtica Dioica
Stinging Nettle
Bonus:  What has been so fun about this challenge is trying and learning new watercolor techniques.  With this one, I learned to add the "needles" with, how simple is this, a #2 pencil. 

Stinging nettle is used in herbal medicine for urinary tract issues and controlling inflammation - internally and externally.  You may find it in shampoos and products for hay fever & allergy symptom relief.  As I am discovering with many of these herbs, it also helps with osteoarthritis.

Galveston Gadabouting - Get back to painting, girl! (I will!)

G for Galveston, R for Rose, S for lunch at ShyKatz, Y for Yellow…

Found this pretty yellow flower along the sand dunes of Stewart Beach in Galveston, Texas today.
After Googling, I learned this is a Yellow Evening Primrose or Ozark Sundrop.  Which is strange because this was taken around Noon.  (special shout out to my iPhone 5 which captured this shot in sustained 20 mile per hour winds with gusts over 30.)

Then I snapped this riot of roses along the white picket fence of the John Hanna House on Market Street.

Source:  The East End Historical District --
1417 Market, John Hanna Home, c. 1893. Hanna, owner of the city’s second oldest real estate firm, built this asymmetrical Queen Anne style home.

Actually both of these photographs will be inspiration for future watercolors. . .One must feed the soul with beauty and nourish the body with Peach Bread Pudding at ShyKatz!
(notice there is not a photo of that, ahem!)

Love Waits

Market Street
Galveston, Texas

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Watercolor Wednesday - Ox Galling

We also experimented with allowing the watercolors to mix and play together, using Ox Gall mixed with water and "painted" on the paper first.
To be honest, in the beginning I wasn't was impressed with this.  My Wet in Wet looks almost the same.  But I started to have more fun and get the hang of it the more I played -- the top section was the last one.

Third time's the charm

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A to Z Blogging Challenge - S is for Sage

S is for Sage
Salvia officinalis

Recent studies are beginning to indicate that sage leaves can help lower and control blood sugar levels.  As with many of the herbs I've profiled, this one is another anti-inflammatory with lots of antioxidants.  You even find it in mouthwashes for gingivitis and cold sore medication.  They say it can also help reduce hot flashes.
And as a spice, you'll recognize its distinct scent and addition in Poultry Seasoning.

Hello Kitty, Hello Earth Day!

Monday, April 21, 2014

A to Z Blogging Challenge - R is for Rose Hips

R is for Rose
Rosa canina
Not the original picture I had planned, but the more I look at it, the more I like it and the how the colors all combined!

Rose hips are the round fruit portion of the rose flower and contain its seeds.
They are a good source of Vitamin C, which helps boost your immune system, and also have a lot of Vitamin A, which is great for your skin.  It's properties can regenerate skin cells, expediting the healing of scars and burns.  Studies are also discovering the rose hips' anti-inflammatory properties could be helpful in reducing pain from osteoarthritis.

Texas Independence Day

"Victory," a bronze statue by Louis Amateis, atop the Texas Heroes Monument  at the intersection of Broadway and 25th Street (Rosenberg Avenue) in Galveston, Texas.

Upcoming Jo-Ann's Pattern Sales

Daffodil Dash - April 27/May 3

McCall's - 5 for $7
Vogue - $4.99

Saturday, April 19, 2014

A to Z Blogging Challenge - Q is for Quercus Robur

Q is for Quercus Robur (Oak bark)

You can brew oak bark as tea and use as a cold compress for burns and cuts.  Used externally, it is said its astringent and antiseptic properties help fight staph infections and skin inflammations.
Many believe the oak tree was the first tree - the Tree of Life - and consider it sacred.

Friday, April 18, 2014

A to Z Blogging Challenge - P is for Parsley

P is for Parsley
petroselinum crispum

Parsely is often used as Karpas in a Passover Seder

Parsley has an abundance of volatile oils and flavonoids which help optimize your health.
Plus iron, and Vitamins C and A.   It's an herb and a vegetable, which can help your cardiovascular system and ease the discomfort of arthritis.  Parsley also freshens breath and helps your digestion.  So don't just admire the parsley decorating your plate, eat it and reap all its benefits.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Thursday Tea Time - Toast

This week - The Republic of Tea Hi Caf Teas - Toasted Coconut Black

Cost:   $12.99 at Whole Foods
Number of teabags:  50
Caffeine:  Yes
Type of tea:  Black
Ingredients:  Black tea, green tea extract, licorice and natural coconut flavor
Steeping time:  3-5 minutes
Add ins:  Nothing helped!  Plain, sugar, Natural Bliss Sweet Cream.  Yuck.
Fragrance:  Faint coconut
Opinion:  I loved all the other HiCaf teas, but not this one.  I couldn't even finish the cup as I kept adding anything and everything to it to make it taste better.  I didn't even taste that coconut-y, which really bummed me out.  I love coconut and licorice, and was expecting a stronger flavor of both, especially being from the Republic of Tea.  Despite it having 140 mg of caffeine, if it gave me a boost, I couldn't tell - I don't think I drank enough.  : P
Rating: 0

A to Z Blogging Challenge - O is for Oregano

O is for Oregano

Oregano is not only a tasty culinary herb, it has Vitamin K (which promotes bone growth and density) antioxidants and anti-bacterial properties from thymol and carvacrol.  It's also a good source of fiber, manganese, iron and calcium.  Enjoy oregano's wonderful flavor and health benefits.  Greek and Roman brides were often crowned with laurels of this symbol of happiness and joy.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A to Z Blogging Challenge - N is for Nasturtium

N is for Nasturtium

Not only are the flowers and leaves beautiful, but they are edible and look great in a salad -- it's loaded with Vitamin C.  Nasturtiums ease muscle pain when applied directly to the skin.  It has a natural antimicrobial effect, and it has been mentioned it can help with upper respiratory infections and urinary tract infections.

Watercolor Wednesday - Gum Arabic Printing

I like the embossed wrinkles

In class this week, we experimented with making watercolor prints.  These two were made with Gum Arabic.   Using distressed (sandpapered) plexiglass, you applied the Gum Arabic and let it dry.  Then you used mostly opaque watercolors painted randomly or in a preconceived design.   All best intentions with mine!  Place sketching paper (Bristol Smooth was also suggested) over the top and transfer the paint using a brayer on the wrong side.

The first was the original...the second, the "ghost print" with some added color touches.
I couldn't tell if inspired by Easter eggs, jelly beans, or a 1 1/2 hour Yin and Yang yoga class.  Perhaps all three!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Still Here!

I am still participating in the A to Z Challenge, just a few letters behind due to travel…and life.
Watch for the Pink Star J is for Jasmine post, which will be backdated -- as will the others to keep the date to the letter -- for Friday, April 11.  I am in the process of uploading the photo right now, in fact, at Whole Foods Market.  (Along with buying some Chocolove Almonds & Sea Salt Dark Chocolate bars.  Let's just call that motivation!)  K for Saturday and L for today.  I should be tickety-boo this week.

A to Z Blogging Challenge - M is for Marigold

M is for Marigold
Tagetes, Calendula officinalis

It has been said that even just looking at marigolds can comfort the heart and spirits, and strengthen the eyesight.  It has anti-inflammatory properties and you may find it in lotions to help ease skin discomforts.  Some say a quick do-it-yourself remedy of rubbing the marigold flower on a bee or wasp sting can help ease the pain and swelling.

Monday, April 14, 2014

A to Z Blogging Challenge - L is for Lavender

L is for Lavender

Ancient Greeks and Romans used lavender in the bath for both the fragrance and therapeutic benefits.  Hence its Latin name lavare, which means to wash.  You'll also find lavender used in sachets to scent your drawers and closets, deterring insects.   Lavender has a calming effect, and its oil is used in aromatherapy to help relieve headaches and tension.  I was lucky at a New Mexico Farmer's Market to find culinary lavender to use in baking! It adds a nice nuance to sugar, salt, vinegar and more.  Here's a great source for all things lavender!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

True Love Found

Absolutely incredible photograph by fellow Rochesterian, Jamie Montanus.  His winter photographs were even featured on The Weather Channel recently.   Visit his webpage and Facebook for more breathtaking photography.
Copyrighted image, used with permission.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

A to Z Blogging Challenge - K is for Kava Kava

K is for Kava Kava
Piper methysticum

Kava Kava
A tonic for the mind and emotions.
Tea and tinctures made with Kava Kava can have a calming and muscle-relaxing effect.  It is sometimes used to help ease off anxiety and sleep medications.  But some sources say heavy and long-term use can cause liver damage.  As with all medicinal and food herbs and supplements, please use caution and discuss with your physician or health practitioner.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Lull in Luling

Pretty butterfly (does anyone know what kind it is?  I've never seen it before) taking a break amongst the Indian Paintbrushes and Bluebonnets.

A to Z Blogging Challenge - J is for (Pink Star) Jasmine

J is for Pink Star Jasmine
Jasminum polyanthum

This is my Hurricane Ike resurrected Pink Jasmine, which is coming back even stronger this year.
Jasmine tea is not only delicious to drink, but is calming, reducing stress and anxiety.  It's beautiful scent in aromatherapy can even help dispel depression.  Try a compress of the blossoms to relieve headaches.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

A to Z Blogging Challenge - I is for Iris

I is for Iris
Iris Germanica (also used as Orris Root, which belongs to the Iridaceae family)

I took this photo outside with the sunlight playing.
I also had fun painting this - I love how the two petals making an L shape
turned out.  I will probably be darkening them, but I wanted a
"before" photo!

Orris root is used as a flavoring in desserts.  It also strengthens your gums and freshens breath.  
It is said that the iris can bestow its powers for love, protection and personal success!

Thursday Tea Time - Just Dandy

This week - The Republic of Tea Super Herb Tea - Dandelion

Cost:   $12.99 at Whole Foods
Number of teabags:  36
Caffeine:  No
Type of tea:  Herbal
Ingredients:  Organic roasted dandelion root, organic ground roasted dandelion root, organic vanilla flavor, natural French vanilla flavor
Steeping time:  5 to 7 minutes
Add ins:  Nothing!  This tastes great by itself.
Fragrance: Roasted vanilla - Yummy!
Opinion:  Timing is everything.  When was posting last week's A to Z Blogging Challenge, D is for Dandelion, I found this tea!  And I love it!  The flavor is like toasted vanilla.  Probably one of the best vanilla teas I've had, and the dandelion benefit is just bonus.  This would be fun to drink in the summer, iced.  With an ice-clinking glass toast to the dandelions in the backyard!
Rating: 5+


Wednesday, April 09, 2014

A to Z Blogging Challenge - H is for Hyssop

H is for Hyssop
Hyssopus officinalis

Hyssop was used as an expectorant and cough suppressant, and its tea was to help with rheumatism.   It's camphor-like flavor can also be found in mouthwash.  (Some sources caution should be used in taking it internally as too much can cause problems with the central nervous system.) 
It is also known as a "Holy Herb" and mentioned several times in the Bible (Hebrews 9:19, Exodus 12:22, Psalm 51:7)  as a spiritual purifying agent.  Using a handful in your bath can supposedly take off a jinx and get rid of bad habits.

All that aside, with its pretty flowers, plant hyssop in your garden to attract honey bees, hummingbirds and butterflies!  

Wednesday Work in Progress - Eggs Over Easy

Practicing and playing around in watercolor class last week. . .resulted without trying into a Spring-time seasonal picture I ended up framing and displaying in my bookcase.   I love how the colors turned out.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

A to Z Blogging Challenge - G is for Gardenia

G is for Gardenia
Gardenia Florida

Gardenia - Get Happy

Also known as the "Happiness Herb"!
Along that line, gardenia in tea and capsule form helps with irritable emotions, restlessness, emotional blockage and insomnia...and the aroma calms the heart.   Externally it can be used topically for bruises, sprains and swellings

Hello Kitty Artist - Draw a bird day - April 8

Draw a Bird began in 1943 when a young girl asked her wounded soldier uncle in the hospital to draw a picture of a bird in her attempt to cheer him.  Today it is celebrated as a way to express joy in life's simple things and for soldiers everywhere to forget war and suffering if only for a little bit of time.
Here's the link to the Draw A Bird Day website to see previous and current pictures and upload your own.

You can even post your drawings on their Facebook page -- search for dabday -- and be sure check out their Twitter page @dabday

Monday, April 07, 2014

A to Z Blogging Challenge - F is for Fennel

F is for Fennel
Foeniculum vulgare

Fun with Fennel!

Fennel helps relieve indigestion and has expectorant and antiseptic properties. 

It's a very aromatic herb which can be used internally and externally. . . 

and also for aromatherapy!  
It has been said a whiff of sweet fennel essential oil can help strengthen your psyche and dispel nervousness when you are feeling anxious or scared.

. . .of course for cooking and baking, too.   
(Here's a link for my Split Pea Soup)

Saturday, April 05, 2014

A to Z Blogging Challenge - E is for Eucalyptus

E is for Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus globulus

Eucalyptus helps upper respiratory issues from colds to coughs to congestion.  It has antibacterial properties which help prevent tooth decay and promote periodontal health.  And externally it is used for easing muscle pain.

Friday, April 04, 2014

A to Z Blogging Challenge - D is for Dandelion

D is for Dandelion - Taraxacum

Also known as Fairy Clock and Blowballs!
It is said that the jagged leaves helped name it - Dent-de-Lion (Lion's tooth)

I do believe the dandelion is poised to become the new media nutritional darling.

The Republic of Tea even has a new Dandelion tea.
Or you can make your own using the flowers, roots or leaves.    (Best to use them from your own, untreated yard, instead of from public places.)  Dandelion tea is supposedly good for weight loss and helping to lower cholesterol.  You can even roast the roots to make a coffee substitute.

The dandelion is anti inflammatory, and some studies are showing it could help prevent cancer - particularly melanoma.  Dandelion is very good for the digestive system, including the liver, gallbladder and pancreas, and supporting kidney function.

The leaves are less bitter if picked before the flowers appear...but once the they do, the flowers have their own uses.  People are also making an infused oil with the flowers to not only put on salads, but as a rub for aches and pains, and irritated skin.   Here's a good link:

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Peak a Blue

A peek at some rather peaked bluebonnets in Houston.  Granted these are on the side of West 11th Street.  I liked the contrast of the cement/asphalt.  I'm looking forward to fresh fields of them in Central Texas in the upcoming weeks.

Thursday Tea Time

This week - The Republic of Tea Hi Caf Teas - Caramel Black

Cost:   $12.99 at Whole Foods
Number of teabags:  50 !
Caffeine:  Hell Yes! (123 mg)
For comparison, Coffee has 100mg
Type of tea:   Black, with Green tea extract
Steeping time:  3 to 5 minutes, I set the timer on this one - 3 minutes
Add ins:  Just a little Natural Bliss creamer
Ingredients:  Black tea, green tea extract, natural caramel flavor
Fragrance:  Caramel
Opinion:  This is good!  I mean, really good!  I've been liking caramel tea, as it is a way to enjoy the sweetness of the caramel without destroying dental work or creating more trouble.  And sometimes you just the like the more robustness of black tea instead of the green and rooibos teas.   This one packs a punch!  I drank it in the morning and went strong all day.   No jitters or tachycardia, just a good energy boost.  Bonus it tastes so good.  Not an artificial or cloyingly sweet caramel flavor.  I also like that for the money, you do get a lot of tea bags.  Check out my earlier sip of Hi Caf Gingermint Green.  I also have the Hi Caf Toasted Coconut Black tea in an upcoming review.
Rating:  5

A to Z Blogging Challenge - C is for Chamomile

C is for Chamomile, Anthemis nobilis
I bought a bouquet of chamomile at Trader Joe's - it looked pretty in the vase and imparted a pleasant fruity (apple-ish) fragrance.
Chamomile is gently astringent and healing.  You'll find it in face creams/cleansers and shampoos/conditioners, and of course, tea!  Drinking the tea helps with tummy troubles.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

She's a Little Bit Sketchy...

So exhorts the cool case!   This is a great book, too!
(Thanks, Theresa!)

A to Z Blogging Challenge - B is for Basil

B is for Sweet Basil, Ocimum basilicum
Sweet Basil from my garden - I love the purple flowers, too.
In addition to making pesto and seasoning your Italian cooking, the aromatic basil leaves can be tossed in your bath and used in potpourri.  Basil can help ease digestion woes and coughs.

Sweet Basil 

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Tea for Two

Two cups of tea
Love this! Got it as a birthday gift from a wonderful friend who knows how much I like tea, and a good tea party!

A to Z Blogging Challenge - A is for Aloe

My theme for the April 2014 A to Z challenge is Watercolor Healing Herbs and Plants.
For two reasons, one to get my watercolor game on and practice (times 26!)...and learn about different medicinal herbs and plants along the way.

So let's start with A is for Aloe Vera
Aloe barbadensis

The gel/juice of the Aloe is well-known and used for minor burns, but did you know it is also especially good as a moisturizer for those with eczema and dry skin?

Aloe Vera