Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Upcoming Jo-Ann's Pattern Sales

Haha!  Their expressions!
Make your own caption!

Holiday Headstart - November 26-December 6

Butterick - 3/$5
Buttons - BIGIF
Thread - BIGIF

Super Savings Sale - December 4-6

McCall's - 3/$5
Vogue - $4.99
Simplicity - $1.99

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thursday Tea Time - Chai Spice Mate

This week - Guayaki Yerba Mate - Chai Spice Mate

Cost:   $6.49 at Kroger
Number of teabags:  16,  individually-wrapped
Caffeine:   Yes, 20 mg per serving
Type of tea:   Herbal
Ingredients:  Guayaki Yerba Mate and all organic cinnamon, licorice, ginger, nutmeg, clove and stevia
Steeping time:  8-10 minutes
Add ins:  I thought Coffee Mate's Natural Bliss made this too sweet!  I tried SO Coconut Milk Creamer and Silk Vanilla Unsweetened Almond Milk (separately) instead.  Not good.  Then I tried evaporated milk and sugar. Nope.  Honey - made it drinkable but then that's all I could taste.  I gave up.
Fragrance:  Licorice, cinnamon, clove
Opinion:  Not that impressed.  I like my other chai teas much better.  I mailed what was left to my sister.   I loved the other two flavors I tried, so I was a bit disappointed in this one.
Rating:  1.40 - the cost of the postage to mail to my sister.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Watercolor Wednesday - Part I: Color me not really impressed (yet?)

Winsor & Newton Watercolor Marker Set - Primary
Quick sketch,  just add water?
Trying to make a green leaf!  Hmmm

Patiently I waited for a 40% off Michael's coupon…I spotted the Winsor-Newton watercolor markers a couple weeks ago, but the current store coupon at the time was 25% off.  Not when these are priced at $14.99 for 3 and $29.99 for 6.  (If you are looking for them, too, they are not in the watercolor paint section, but in the drawing and colored pencils aisle one over.)   And then this week, aha!  A 50% off one item coupon!  Ka-ching!

Of course, when I went back others must have the same idea as all the six packs were gone, leaving me to choose the Primary set of three, which has Permanent Rose, Lemon Yellow Hue and Phthalo Blue-Red Shade.

I thought this would be a good starter set, I could mix these to get the other colors on the color wheel, right?  Not really.  Evidently they want you to buy all the markers for the colors you need, as evidenced above.

I didn't think they played nicely with each other.  I thought if I laid down the color outline, I could add water and blend and spread around the pigment.  Not quite again.  You need to work fast, outline/marker, then add water.  Not sketch out first with them.  For once they dry, and dry they rapidly do, it releases some of the color but not all.

I also thought they seemed kind of dry for a paintbrush marker, particularly the Lemon Yellow Hue.   I tried to use the marker "brush" to blend with the blue to get a green, and instead the yellow marker brush was stained blue, albeit temporarily.  It eventually cleaned up - see the left side of the paper.  It also seemed the driest.  Granted I was using Arches watercolor paper, but it should not have absorbed and dried it out as soon as I tried to draw.  Not smooth at all.   These may be better suited for art journals/sketchbooks.

Permanent Rose did in fact seem "permanent" - it released some color, more of a tinting.  Not bad, but good to know if you are used to the vibrancy of Permanent Rose from the tube.

The Phthalo Blue-Red Shade seemed the most fluid, especially when still wet.  You can see the outlines of it when it dried.  Wetting the paper first then trying to "marker-paint" didn't really work either.

However, I did like the bleed-out edges of the outlines, a cool effect.  And I thought my quick drawing turned out interesting, just not what I expected.  The photograph did not really capture all the different shadings and details, which are really pretty close-up.

I was hoping to find "portable" watercolors to toss in my traveling art knapsack, along with a water brush and be good to go.  I thought they would be "paint-ier" and more fluid.   I think I will stick with my watercolor pencils (my Derwent Inktense) for portability and for adding additional colors and easier blending.  At least I can control the intensity and unwanted lines remaining a little bit better with lighter or heavier touches of color.

Right now I think their application is best for bold accents and serendipitous outcomes.  I will still play some more with these, but to rely on them alone to grab and go without my traveling palette as a back-up, I probably won't.  Not with just these three colors.   If you have the money and the coupon (which, pssst!  It is reusable, just not at the same store on the same day.) it might be nice to have.

But wait, stay tuned for Part II of my adventure with these markers.

UPDATE:  I will be at Texas Art Supply next week when they will have a Winsor & Newton representative demo-ing the markers and watercolor crayons

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Netflix Stars - Admission

3.50 stars - We thought this was a cute and quirky movie.  Is it a true rom-com?  Not really.  But it has its moments.  A bit choppy in places, but we liked the fact the ending is unexpected.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Upcoming Jo-Ann's Pattern Sales

Stock Your Sleigh Days - November 23-25

Sunday only, November 23
Butterick 3/$5
Vogue $4.99

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Thursday Tea Time - Tastes like flowery chicken

This week - Traditional Medicinals Organic Chamomile with Lavender

Cost:   $3.99 on sale at Super Target, regular price $4.89
Number of teabags:  16, individually-wrapped
Caffeine:   No
Type of tea:   Herbal
Ingredients:   All Organic chamomile flower, English lavender flower, lemon balm leaf
Steeping time:   10 minutes
Add ins:  Plain or with a splash of milk and honey.
Fragrance:   Lavender/floral
Opinion:   It has a savory, umami flavor with a pleasant lavender taste.  It actually seems even better cooled.  Very calming and nice to drink in the evening.  "Like aromatherapy for your digestive and nervous systems…"
Rating:  2.5 - especially for the health and immunity boosting benefits.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Peace inside and outside

In yoga today, we talked about ahimsa.  Ahimsa—the principles of kindness and compassion, toward yourself and others, in words, thoughts and actions. It respects living beings as a unity, the belief that all living things are connected.  

Saturday, November 08, 2014


Scored at Texas Art Supply today - a Stillman & Birn Zeta Smooth 180 pound 7" x 10" sketchbook.  Regular price $22.99, I paid $8.00!  My favorite clerk was singing the praises of the Zeta series for my watercoloring.  "You will love it," he said, "...and you can't beat the price!"

(Note to my Houston area watercolor peeps, I grabbed the last wire-bound one in this size.  However, you may want to check the Voss and Montrose locations this weekend so you can take advantage of the half-off red tag price deal items, too.  I think they are clearing out their stock, as the promotion is "while supplies last."  So if you are a Stillman & Birn fan, run over there.  They had their line from Beta to Zeta)

Friday, November 07, 2014

F These

My favorite sketching pencil for watercolor is the Staedtler Mars Lumograph pencil in "F" 
(Top one in the photo)  
It has a nice, light touch, easily erasable -- important for me!  But as I keep using and sharpening it, I wanted to stock in a supply.  Unfortunately, this is not a common degree and rather hard to find selling separately outside of the sets locally.  (I did find an online source at Dick Blick, surprisingly it was not available individually at the Staedtler website)

I thought I would try two other brands of F pencils.  I try to buy locally and support independent stores, and I found these two at Texas Art Supply.

The Prismacolor Turquoise 2260 (bottom) was very easy to sharpen, but the lead seemed harder and draggy.  This will probably live out its life as all-purpose desk pencil in the pen/pencil jar.  Bonus it is a pretty color.

The Tombow Chromo-Graph Mono (middle) took a bit longer to sharpen, but I thought it had a smoother and softer feel.

While the Mars still remains my favorite, the easier to find Tombow is a close runner-up.  
Always have a back-up plan...and a back-up pencil!

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Triple Threat

Triple Chocolate M&M Cookies

Here is another version -Fall Harvest Halloween Thanksgiving- of the Cocoa M&M Cookies from the March 1995 issue of McCall's magazine. I grabbed a bag of M&M's at Target's After Halloween Sale.  I was planning to make a double batch for a Chili Cook-Off fundraiser.  Alas, the bags are no longer two cups -- but 12.6 ounces now.  However, I made up the difference with dark chocolate chips.  I think they even turned out better and more chocolate-y!


1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened (you can easily lop off 1 1/2 tablespoons without being missed)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup M&Ms plain chocolate candy
confectioner's sugar

Grease 3 large baking sheets. Preheat oven to 350. In medium bowl, mix flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. In large (coverable if you do this *) bowl, combine sugar and butter. At high speed beat 2 minutes or until creamy. Beat in egg and vanilla; beat 2 minutes. Beat in flour mixture. Stir in candies. (*chill 10 minutes or until dough is firm. Roll dough into 1" balls then roll in confectioner's sugar). Place 2" apart on prepared sheets. Bake 10-12 minutes. Cool.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Watercolor Wednesday Work in Progress - Pomegranates

Pair of Pomegranates watercolor
10" x 13 1/4"

Watercolor pomegranates - work in progress.  
I still need to add the seeds at the bottom and work on the background and cans a bit more.  Trying to see the colors and paint in reflections is fun - that moment when you step away and look. . .
I just think, "Wow!"  I definitely learn something each time I begin a new painting.   

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Yarrow, Part 2

Yarrow watercolor
9" x 8 1/4"
Learning to and reminding myself "Ooomp it up" and layer, layer, layer.
I went darker and rougher around and into the flowers.  Wetted the stems/leaves and then used a blend of opaque greens and let them have fun.  The opaque helped it stay pretty well on top yet it was able to move around a little.   These "nothing to lose but opportunities to have fun and learn at the same time"
It's not quite as dark black in real life as photographed, I'm actually liking it more the more I look at it.


To be honest, the only part I liked in the "before" was the upper left corner and sides where salt spilled when I tried to brush it from the flowers.

Monday, November 03, 2014

A to Z Challenge - Y is for Yarrow

Y is for Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Historically the Yarrow herb has been used externally for treating wounds and stopping the flow of blood. Yarrow oil is also used in hair shampoos.   If you have allergies to ragweed, it may be best to avoid contact with yarrow, you may be more susceptible to a reaction.

And with this post, I am finished with the 2014 Challenge!   There were over 2,000 bloggers participating.  Click here for the link to all my posts for this Challenge.  I really learned a lot, not only about the herbs and flowers, but practicing watercolor.

Better late than never!

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Thank you

"I thank you God for most this amazing day:  for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes"
~ e.e. cummings