Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas!

I haven't had a chance to blog much lately, as I have been traveling recently both inside the United States (Miami) and outside the United States (just returned from Sydney, Australia!)

I will be back to blogging regularly again soon!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Thursday Tea Time - Cranberry Vanilla Wonderland

This week - Celestial Seasonings Cranberry Vanilla Wonderland

Price:  $2.49 at Kroger and HEB
Size:  20 tea bags, unwrapped, 2 bags connected
Caffeine:   No
Type of tea:   Herbal
Steeping time:  6 minutes
Mix ins:   Just a teaspoon of honey
Fragrance:  Fruity cinnamon vanilla
Ingredients:  Rooibos, hibiscus, cinnamon, natural cranberry and vanilla flavors with other natural flavors, roasted chicory, orange peel, chamomile, juniper berries, stevia extract and cranberries.
Opinion:   New Seasonal Favorite from Celestial Seasonings.  Brews to a pretty warm pink,  it's light and bright cranberry with a mellow vanilla finish. Delicious!  Nice to warm you on a cold winter's night without having to worry about staying awake all winter's night.
Rating:  4.5

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Blessed Virgin Mary statue

Blessed Virgin Mary statue outside
Sacred Heart Church in Rockport, Texas
10" x 13 1/2"
Happy how this turned out, I think I captured the marble and shadowing of the niche!
Update:  Here are the close-ups. . .

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Watercolor Wednesday - Houston Astrodome

Houston Astrodome - 2015
8" x 3"
Original Artist Print
On a pretty fall day last Tuesday, I took a photograph of the Houston Astrodome.  The sunlight in the  autumnal sky and greens of the oak trees made the Astrodome look pretty good!  I made a copy of my photograph in black and white and used the wintergreen oil transfer method, enhancing the trees, sky and signs with Derwent Watercolor and Inktense colored pencils.  I really like how it turned out, so did my dear friend and recipient. (xoxo Regina)

(Here's the post with the picture I did of my Dad last year.)

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Monday, November 02, 2015

Upcoming Jo-Ann's Pattern Sales

Veterans Day Sale

November 5-11
$1.99 McCalls
$4.99 Vogue

November 8-14
5 for $5 Simplicity

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Pumpkin Paint Play

Working on my shadow play.  Qor paint palette and my Visual Journal Watercolor 90 lb. sketchbook.
I like the pumpkin in the first one, but not so much the shadow.  The colors don't look that blue in reality.
The second was done wet in wet.  I like the colors, how they softened and ran together.
When I started the third, I skipped the drawing and just painted directly onto the sketchbook page.  I like how cream/white part of the pumpkin popped and the color of the shadow.
One pumpkin, three different painting perspectives and results.  A nice way to spend a rainy afternoon.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Fall Back to Sleep!

Extra hour of sleep!  YES!


On the left - Winsor Newton Cobalt Turquoise
On the right - Qor Cobalt Teal

Another paint off!

One of my watercolor instructors loves Winsor Newton Cobalt Turquoise.  I already had Qor Cobalt Teal from the High Chroma 6 set.  Never one to pass up an opportunity to purchase more art supplies, I picked up a tube at Texas Art Supply.  ($9.79, 30% off list price)

Let's begin!

First impression, perhaps they are misnamed.  Cobalt Turquoise looks more like Teal and vice versa, darker and lighter.

TEAL:  a small freshwater duck, typically with a greenish band on the wing that is most prominent in flight.
a dark greenish-blue color.

Hmmm, the old saying, "if it looks like a duck. . ."

TURQUOISE:  the name of a greenish blue color, based on the gem of the same name. The word turquoise comes from the French for Turkish, as the gem was originally imported from Turkey.

In the end, I give Winsor Newton Cobalt Turquoise the edge - I really love the granulation in both wet in wet and wet in dry applications,  the color/pigmentation intensity, and that same dab still had miles to paint.  The Qor's advantage was that is a true Caribbean, beachy water color.  They are both pretty and versatile colors.

Orchid, 'K?

Keurig K10 Mini

Have you all been seeing the background of my Keurig peeking in my post when taking the pictures of my K-Cups from CoffeeIcon?  Yes, that is purple - Orchid to be exact.  You can't find it in the brick and mortar stores, (unless...keep reading!) but you can online at  While shipping is free, you can save an additional $10 by picking it up at your favorite brick and mortar Target.  They also have other fun colors, but they are often quickly discontinued and replaced with more.  This little guy was just the right size, even though it replaced the larger one I had which would store the water.  It can make up to 10 ounces at a time (6-8-10) and you can remove the tray to fit your larger mugs.  The only ones that won't squeeze underneath are the tall latte ones.  But you can brew into a Pyrex measuring cup and pour into your favorite latte mug.

Regular price for the Mini is $99, but right now this color is only $79 -- then with the additional $10 off, you can get your pop of purple for only $69

Friday, October 30, 2015

Go to sleep

Seriously, this will put you to sleep - for babies and kids and adults of all sizes.  It's five hours of different versions of Brahms lullaby.  The pictures are mesmerizing, too.  Read all the comments.  This works!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Drop In!

15" x 9"

Mount Rainier
14" x 11"

I attended a great art workshop earlier this week!  We used Daler Rowney FW Acrylic Artists Ink as watercolor paint, wet watercolor paper (both sides!) and an eye dropper to sketch in a loose idea.  It was fun to watch the inks spread and diffuse while wet, and even after drying.  The mixing and blending created different values, and using the eye dropper helped lend itself to movement and visual interest.  You can then add details with a fine-point Sharpie pen for more visual interest.  (I'm still thinking about that.  I may make a photocopy and play with it first, as I like how these are already at this point.  Or if I use my printer and watercolor paper to make copies as cards.  Perhaps the next painting, if it so speaks to me to do so.)

I really enjoy taking these classes, they provide an opportunity to try new-to-me products and learn different techniques.  And these paintings really helped loosen me up in my watercolor adventures, especially the last one I did, which was the pumpkin.  It took me less than five minutes, but forever to dry.  I was afraid to move it to the blow dryer, so there I was fanning it with a paper plate.   Who says painting isn't good exercise.  Work those biceps and triceps!

The next day, I headed over to Hobby Lobby to pick up a starter set of six inks, and to Texas Art Supply for additional colors. ; )  TAS had a more expanded selection, including "Shimmering Gold."  The helpful, enabling associate there said it is really versatile and layer-able over other other colors for fun effects.   I know I will have fun with that one in many other adventures.  While watercolor paper is used for this, save your good Arches and use the Strathmore and Canson watercolor pad papers instead - 140 pound, cold press.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Watercolor Washington Wednesday

Watercolor sketchbook sketch
5 x 8 1/2"

"When the clouds rolled away..."
Mount Rainier - August 20, 2015
Watercolor - 10 3/4" x 13 1/2"

It was a cloudy, misty morning when we left Seattle for our day trip to Mount Rainier.   But in the early afternoon, voila!  The clouds rolled away and we could see The Mountain!  My daughter and I actually thought the mountain looked even more enigmatic with the few remaining tenacious clouds and we quickly snapped photos before they finally dissipated.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

K-Cupdate - Updated 11-24-15

So far the K-Cups from CoffeeIcon are proving to be winners!  Anything 4 and above will be a definite repeat purchase.

Coffees:  They seem to be edging over the teas, go figure!  Even more so the more I try.

Are you sure there aren't crushed up cookies in here?!
Gets the + because it really does taste like a cookie!

It really does taste like vanilla buttercream frosting!
Gets the + for innovative flavor concept
I swore there were chocolate chips in this!
Tastes just like a bakery chocolate chip cookie!
Your loss, Dunkin Donuts when you discontinued
your Peppermint Mocha K-Cups!
There's a new chocolate mint in town.
(And I like this even better!)

Wolfgang Puck Vanilla French Toast
It does taste like it, albeit with cinnamon,
wish it were more vanilla-y
Good chance I may buy again...
*** 3/4 to ****

Cake Boss Italian Rum Cake
Meh, not that rum-y, not that cake-y
Tastes "different"  perhaps better for afternoon
Not first thing in the morning

This slightly edged out Copper Moon's Chai Latte
Nice balance of spices
**** 1/2

It already has milk (powder) so it was ready to drink at the get-go.
And vitamins and minerals!
(maybe from the milk?)
First one I didn't like
Very astringent, hot bite and aftertaste
Didn't even finish the mug
This is good - I needed the black tea caffeine boost
However, I have this in the teabags, so next time I will reserve
it's space for something else
The teabags are also capable of being brewed a little stronger
 *** 1/2
It tasted a little too artificial and too sweet,
especially since I have been cutting back on adding sugar.
I'm giving it a 2, just incase you like sweet tea.
I thought the spices were really nice
Note: This has the milk already added

Oh yes!
This will be my new go-to hot chocolate.  It really does taste like Tootsie Roll!
My only advice is to use 8 ounce of water, not 10, for even more richness.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Just my K-Cup of tea and coffee

(I kinda made this my tea section of the box...)
I like those teas with the clear top.

Seriously, TOOTSIE ROLL Hot Cocoa?!
I grabbed 2!

A serendipitous discovery while trying to find parking to go into Trader Joe's - I found CoffeeIcon.  Whoa!

I was blown away by all the varieties of Keurig K-Cups.  As you know, I'm usually a tea drinker and will only drink coffee if it doesn't taste like coffee.  There are plenty of teas and coffee "drinks" to choose from.   I especially went crazy with the 18 cup build your own box for $15.99.  If you bring the box back, you can get a dollar off the next "refill".  Individual K-cups are only 99 cents, so you can try before committing to a single flavor 24 count box, or just grab a few of your favorites, which will become many.   I loved the three I've tried so far  -- Cake Boss "Vanilla Buttercream" (yes, it does taste like frosting when you add a little Natural Bliss to it),  CoffeeIcon branded "Salted Caramel Shortbread Cookie" (hello!) and Copper Moon Chai Latte.  All winners so far, 15 more to go!

There are four locations in the North/West Houston area - Katy Cinco Ranch,  Cypress,  Magnolia and Tomball.  For those of you living outside these suburbs of Houston, you can order online.  The shipping may just be a wash considering the Grand Parkway or Westpark Tollway EZ Tag tolls.  But it would definitely be a nice stop if you are in the area.  I love the Fort Bend County Cinco Ranch Library, just a block away.  Cinco Ranch also has a very nice Whole Foods (they have a taco and burrito bar!) and probably the best World Market store next door in the Houston area.  Make a day of it.  The La Centerra shopping center is chockablock with a great variety of stores and restaurants.

And by the way, that is a nice Trader Joe's around the corner. . .

Sunday, October 25, 2015

What Does It Madder?

Oops!  Correction:  Rose Madder is Non-Staining
Permanent Rose versus Rose Madder --

One of the first colors suggested by my watercolor instructor was to get Permanent Rose.  Somehow along the way I read a book/a suggestion and picked up a tube of Rose Madder.

Permanent Rose is cool, semi-transparent and staining.
Rose Madder is cool, transparent and non-staining (I corrected my sketch after photographing)

I was using them interchangably, as when I set my palette down, they are on the opposite side so I see the colors grouped together but not the labels I put on the side.  Finally my instructor said, "Take out that Rose Madder!"

Though first,  a side-by-side comparison for a visual lesson opportunity.

Not much difference at first glance, right?  Though the Rose Madder did seem to lay down paint in a pretty way.

But Rose Madder is considered a "fugitive" color and Permanent Rose was developed to replace it, hence the Permanent in the name.

However, I thought this was an interesting comment from Jeanne Dobie -  

Winsor Newton Rose Madder Genuine: The closest alternative color is Winsor Newton Permanent Rose. However, the two pigments have different qualities. Rose Madder Genuine is very transparent and identified by Winsor Newton as an unique pigment used for luminous light effects that cannot be obtained by any other pigment. Rose Madder Genuine is a favorite color among artists who desire glowing flowers, delicate portraits, glazing, and atmospheric effects, etc. Although not listed as permanent, Rose Madder Genuine can remain durable IF your painting is framed properly with UV protected glass and not placed near a window or in direct sunlight (applicable to all watercolors).

Winsor Newton Permanent Rose, slightly bluer in color, is a staining pigment and thus, creates a permanent color stain on your paper. Although a staining pigment is resistant to fading, be aware that it may not result in capturing a luminous effect, if that is your goal as a watercolor artist.

I also found a nice link for additional watercolor tips and paint information - Ken Bromley Art Supplies 

Little tidbits here and there help feed the creative appetite.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Penzeys Free Cocoa Coupon!

The new Penzeys Spices Thanksgiving 2015 just arrived, with a coupon for a 1/2 cup jar of Natural Cocoa (coupon code 42356C)  Check out these recipes on their website which call for it.  And of course, the recipes in the catalog itself!  I have my eye and appetite set on the Buttery Brunch Breakfast Cake.   (Butter being the word - the cake has two sticks and the filling has two sticks. . .!  Serves 32, so that breaks it down to 240 calories and 24g carb)

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Water Color Wednesday - Striped Shirt

Striped Shirt on a Hanger
Water Color
12" x 10"
This week, we were learning how to paint folds, and an added twist - adding stripes to a white shirt!
Inspired by the book, Le Drape'.  (I'm waiting for the price to drop from three figures, for a used copy yet, on Amazon - yikes!)   I'm becoming more confident painting shadows, and I love to paint white using different colors.  It was also interesting to learn how indicate stripes by just adding a few lines with a rigger brush on the white areas, following the curves to accent the folds further.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Upcoming Jo-Ann Pattern Sales

Monster Savings Days - October 22-25

October 22-24
$4.99 Vogue
$1.99 McCall's

October 21-28
$1.99 Butterick

Monday, October 05, 2015

Upcoming Jo-Ann's Pattern Sales

Moonlight Madness is October 8-12!

October 9-12
Simplicity $1.99

October 15-17
Butterick 3 for $5