Thursday, January 29, 2015

Thursday Tea Time - Apple of my Tea

This week - The Art of Tea Apple Pie

Cost:  $10.99 online
Number of tea bags:  N/A it is loose-leaf.  Approximately 50 cups
Caffeine: No
Type of tea: Herbal/Rooibos
Mix ins: Natural Bliss
Fragrance:  Apple pie!
Ingredients:  Organic Rooibos, Organic Honeybush, Organic Cinnamon, Organic Apple Bits, Organic Coconut, Organic Ginger, Organic Pink Peppercorn, Organic Black Peppercorn, Organic Nutmeg, Natural Flavors
Opinion:   Limited edition, so grab it now if you'd like.  This smells fruity and indeed tastes like apple pie, especially if you add milk/sweetner.  Plain, it's kinda sorta like apple spice cider. The milk makes it come alive.  It is a little on the sweet side, so it is definitely a dessert tea.  I tried it this morning after breakfast and I almost felt like I was eating apple jacks with my cereal.  Not unpleasant, but this would be good in the afternoon or after dinner to keep you from actually eating apple pie.
Rating: 4

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Water - Color

It was such a pretty 75 degree day in Galveston today - no time to post a watercolor picture...but how about a pretty picture of the Gulf of Mexico water instead?

Monday, January 26, 2015

Monday Musing - the Goo of Aquamarine (Sounds kinda Zen-like, yes? There is a lesson contained herein)

Not actual size
What is it about samples?

We love to get them,
but we don't love to use them?  What's the deal here?

They pile onto each other in the drawers we stuff them in, until about once a year we do a clean out, and donate them to women's shelters and food banks.  
And vow to use the freebie goodies we think we want to keep.

But then what do we do?  Perhaps toss a few that leaked or can't figure out what they are/do.
Hair catalyst?!

Some are easily carbon-dated -

In my defense this was hidden underneath, yes, more traveling kits
Some are so tiny, there's barely enough for one use.

So we think we will use it when we travel, thanks to TSA.
Stashing a few of them in our traveling makeup/toiletries bags.   Which I've also sorted through, tossed/donated.

But who wants to take a chance on something that could stink to high heaven when trying to impress relatives and friends, or a special occasion you flew halfway across the country for.   Or a quick* weekend getaway trip.

*While patting yourself on the back for being so spontaneous and prepared, be sure to prelocate those urgent care ER rooms popping up in strip malls and along the freeways.  Or also toss in a few doses of Benadryl in the convenient peel-to-open dose packaging.

Or even an allergic reaction to the product since you can't see the ingredients on said tiny tube if they are even on there, since you peeled it off the glue dot of the cardboard holder upon acquiring and tossing into the drawer.
#NoSoy, #NoStrawberries
Trust me on this.

We are savers.  Not so much money, but for stuff.  And security.
Perhaps we need to focus more on the money, too.   Seriously.
(It doesn't count you saved money with free stuff.)

Saving for a special occasion or just to know we have?
(this translates to money, too)
Eventually it all turns.  (the freebies and the economy)

We are easily inbred to try and save things, don't use the good stuff, I may need this someday.  I know, because this happened. . .

My Mom had this beautiful bottle of lotion by Revlon, "Aquamarine."  The color, so pretty.  The name, my birthstone.  I would look at it for years on the shelf in the linen closet. Being saved for what?   Obviously for me - a 10 year old me going after at least a 5 year old bottle glop!  I thought I could get away with just opening it and seeing what aquamarines smelled like at least.   But - It...exploded when I twisted off the cap and squeezed!  All over me, my clothes, the clean towels, the shelves, the floor.  And it didn't smell how I thought aquamarines would.

Revlon Aquamarine Body Lotion
Lesson learned then and now, and oft-repeated. . .

Be mindful -- You can have abundance with less.
Start with those drawers and shelves (and linen closets) today and be in the moment to -
-Use and enjoy what you have.
-Keep only what you truly like and need.
-Stop stocking and waiting for the right time.
-If you don't want it, decline or donate.  There are others who will.

Later is now.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Prints Charming

I've been trying to make copies of some of my watercolor projects, with varied results by taking them to professional printers.  One did a fantastic job at a not so fantastic price - Eeek! $$$.  The other tried and used paper I brought in, but the copy really didn't look too much like the original.  Not all the colors and shadings were duplicated.  On its own, not that bad, but compared to the original - Oops.

Now fast forward to Hobby Lobby earlier this week.  Next to the portfolios in their art section, I found Strathmore watercolor and pastel inkjet papers.   The pastel paper was light texture, 80 pound, $12.99 for 25 sheets.   The watercolor was medium texture, cold press finish, 115 pound, $14.99 for 8 sheets.   With the 40% coupon - $8.99.  For a little over a dollar a page, I thought I would give the watercolor paper a try first.

And several tries, I did.
It just kept rolling straight through my Epson 410 XP $99 special printer -- and not printing!
Online reviews have everyone singing  praises about how they can use it to print on all kinds of media.  I tried adjusting the printer settings for media, paper - still just zip, zip rolling right out.  

Paper on top of regular copy paper?  The Strathmore paper ran right through, and then the Epson printed on regular paper.   Granted it did a good job looking watercolor-y, but it wasn't on the watercolor paper.

Then I tried stacking two sheets of Strathmore in the feeder tray.  And, two - run right through.  

I'm almost ready to give up -- but saw in the printer queue there was still one waiting.

This time I held the paper in the paper tray and as it tried once more to grab and run, I gave it just a little tug back and...

I heard the printer start printing!!

Color (print) me impressed!
 Clockwise from left - copy paper, Strathmore watercolor paper, original
I was starting to run low on some of the color cartridges, and I later discovered the option to adjust the size - which would be "custom" to keep the original size and not "fill".  But actually it didn't really distort it too much.   You can definitely see more of the shading and details on the Strathmore watercolor paper compared to the copy paper.

The prints were made from a photograph of my original watercolor.  Next time I will try to copy the original directly on the printer.  I'm not sure if the colors were changed by printing from iPhoto or from the printer.

Another time, another coupon --  the lighter weight pastel/watercolor 80 pound paper, perhaps for stationery and cards.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Friday Faucet

Watercolor Water Faucet
6 1/4" x 6 3/4"

We finally had the water faucet handle replaced with one that actually turns off the water completely!
(including a bonus bit of foam and tape for insulation during our cold weather spell)
During our Hurricane Ike repairs, one of the subcontractors broke off the original faucet (how, I don't want to know) and we had water spewing all over.  They ran to a local hardware store and bought a close, but not quite the right size/the first one/the only one they had.  

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Thursday Tea Time - Something cool to warm you on a cold, rainy day...

This week - The Republic of Tea - Limited Edition Cool Winter Herb Tea - Peppermint Bark 

Cost:  $10.25 online (no longer available),  also can be found at Whole Foods (I will check and add the price next time I'm there) and $15 at Mod Coffeehouse in Galveston...
Number of tea bags:  36
Caffeine: No
Type of tea: Herbal/Rooibos
Mix ins: Not a thing
Fragrance:  Creamy minty
Ingredients:  Organic green rooibos, peppermint, organic cocoa extract, organic vanilla flavor and stevia leaf and natural flavor
Opinion: This reminds me of those pastel yellow, pink and green mints with the white non parriels - that pleasant, creamy minty flavor.  I really didn't taste the chocolate, though - a little disappointing there.  I liked the fact it is a green Rooibos,  I actually had never heard of Green Rooibos.  It was perfectly fine plain and plenty sweet enough without any added sweetener or milk/cream, so that's another check in the win column.  The stevia leaf aftertaste is disguised by the mint, in fact, I was surprised to see it when I was checking the list of ingredients to type.  If you see this in the stores/coffee shops, I would grab it.  It sold out online.  I'm glad I saw it a few months ago when reordering my Get Wellness tea (thank goodness that is still available, I can't find it in the stores anymore).  Hopefully they will bring it back later this year.
Rating: 4.5

This almost looks like one of  those Pinterest pictures
- it is raining in Houston and a perfect tea day today!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Watercolor Wednesday - Purgatory Landscape

14 1/4" x 6 3/4"
Fun finding a frame for this off the rack...!

Actually the Hike and Bike Trails at Purgatory Creek in San Marcos, Texas!

This week, we were working on landscapes with overlapping planes using mid-tones, a la William Anzalone.  I am trying to be more adventurous with color selection and intensity, and brush strokes.  My new size 12, 16 and 20 Round Escoda Prado brushes help immensely, too!   (Thank you, Texas Art Supply for your lower pricing and extra 10% student discount, enabling me to purchase all three at once)  I especially had fun learning how to paint the Opuntia texana (yellow prickly pear cactus) in the center diagonal line.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Hoffman Challenge 2015

M7405 381G Pomegranate Gold

This is the 2015 Hoffman Challenge fabric.   If you click on the link, you'll get all the information about the fabric and the Challenge.

I think the colors and combination are also inspiration for watercoloring.  Teal, hot pink and gold?  Which Hoffman is naming the looks-like-teal-to-me as Indigo in their suggested coordinates.  I may just order some and see. (There is always an excuse to buy fabric, right?)  I'm going to play around with these colors and create my own challenge to myself.  Let the game begin!  I will start a new label on my sidebar - Hoffman Fabric Inspired Watercolor Challenge 2015.  

I don't think I will ever run out of inspiration and things to try and paint in watercolor.  Might as well make it interesting and fun.

Monday, January 19, 2015


Ginger is listed first in the name for a reason!

Over the weekend, I picked up a box of Trader Joe's Just the Clusters Ginger Almond & Cashew granola cereal.  It sounded good.  Even the idea of cashews in cereal.

A serving is 2/3 cup, which when put in a smaller bowl seems more than generous and surprisingly filling.  Calories - 210, total fat 7g (0.5g saturated), sodium 60mg, fiber 2g, sugar 15, protein 4g, total carbohydrate 36g (yeah...)

It is very gingery!  And sweet-hot.  If you like ginger, you would love this.  (The ingredients have two forms of ginger, the crystallized ginger and ginger root)  However, it is almost too-too for eating by itself.  Next time I will add maybe a quarter cup to top my oatmeal.  Or as a topping if baking sweet quick bread or muffins.  I think it is more of a "decoration" cereal instead of a cereal-cereal.

Sunday, January 18, 2015


Photograph of my watercolor palette - I love how French Ultramarine Blue granulates, even in the palette.   While Cobalt Blue is my usual go-to blue when painting, I seem to be using French Ultramarine more decisively lately and really enjoying the a-ha! results.

This was from last week's cherry blossoms project.  I love what it did on the right-hand side of the painting.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Best Tech'd for Spring

Spring is around the corner, but you can get a touch of Spring now with the Vera Bradley tech downloads in Rio, Lucky You and Midnight Stripe.  Click on the link and the downloads are at the end of the page.

Midnight Stripe
Lucky You


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Thursday Tea Time - Tone it down with Turmeric

This week - Republic of Tea Spice of Life Green Tea - Organic Turmeric Ginger.

Cost:   $12.99 at Whole Foods
Number of teabags:  50
Caffeine: Yes
Type of tea: Green
Ingredients:  Organic turmeric, organic green tea, organic ginger, organic cinnamon and natural honey flavor
Steeping time:  3 minutes
Mix ins:  Plain or a little bit of Natural Bliss.  No additional sweeter needed.
Fragrance:  Spicy
Opinion:   My acupuncturist recommend turmeric to help control inflammation and ease the pain in my foot.  After looking at assorted turmeric capsules and the prices at Whole Foods, I gave up and wandered over to the tea aisle, wondering if there was a turmeric tea, and I found this Republic of Tea version.  For the win!  It has a spicy flavor followed by a mellow honey aftertaste.  Love it!  I'm going to start drinking it every day.  Turmeric and ginger and cinnamon play very nicely together, and all are  known for the anti-inflammatory properties.   Bonus it is organic.  This is a good-for-you tea which actually tastes good! And looks pretty, too - it brews to a pretty golden color.  Very soothing to the soul, mind and foot!
Rating:  4.5

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Watercolor Wednesday - The value of cherry blossoms

This week in class, we were working on value.  A pretty photograph of blooming cherry tree branches  was the inspiration.  But the copies of the color photograph were taped to the walls while we were giving black and white copies.  Added to the twist was the fact that the sky was darker in value than the leaves.  I kind of had to twist my brain around that.   And the whiteness of the flowers had to either be "saved" or whitened by contrast alone.  It was interesting to see how everyone's was different - either by their own interpretation or what section of the photograph appealed to them, including even different colors.  As long as the value was correct, who's to say you have to paint the sky blue and the leaves green?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Free Penzeys Roasted Garlic!

The Winter 2015 Penzeys Spices catalog has a coupon for a free 1/2 cup jar of their Roasted Garlic, a $6.95 value.  (Coupon Code:  43953C)  And, of course, the catalog has several tempting recipes...including three making my list to try - Fudge Cupcakes with pretty white frosting...Brynne's Energy Cookies, and Maple Pumpkin Energy Bars

With this colder weather, hot oatmeal has been my go-to breakfast.  I like to add apples and walnuts to oomp it up, and one morning I grabbed my Apple Pie Spice instead of cinnamon.  Let me just say, it makes a tasty flavor addition.  A perfect match!

Friday, January 09, 2015

Netflix Stars - Philomena

5 stars!  A compelling, based upon true story (The Lost Child of Philomena Lee by Martin Sixsmith) of an Irish woman wanting to reunite with her son whom she had to give up for adoption in the mid-century.  Dame Judi Dench plays the title role endearingly.  Be sure to watch the closing credits!

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Thursday Tea Time - Yerba Mate Latte

This week - The Republic of Tea Yerba Mate Latte  

Cost:  $36.99/pound at Whole Foods...but before you shriek, a healthy, almost 1/2 cup scoop is only $2, enough for several mugfuls.  Also available online for $10.25 or $15 at Mod Coffeehouse in Galveston...36 teabags.
Caffeine: Yes
Type of tea: Herbal/Rooibos
Mix ins: Silk Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk and a touch of sugar.
Fragrance:  Slightly nutty
Ingredients:  Rooibos, roasted yerba mate, natural almond, vanilla, chocolate flavors, sunflower petals and almond bits
Opinion: I saw this at Mod Coffeehouse in Galveston, selling for $15 a can.  Which by the time you figure in postage turns out to be close enough to the online website price.  So I thought I would look for it in the Houston area.  Nope.  No luck.   But lo and behold when I rounded the aisles of Whole Foods on Kirby, there it was in the loose-leaf version.  I picked up a couple of scoops for $2 and tried it.  I'm going back to Mod to buy the canister!  This is good!  I didn't really taste the chocolate.  It was just very smooth and nutty-creamy.  It almost tasted like marshmallow.   The extra boost from the yerba mate is appreciated, too.  I thought it tasted best with Silk's Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk and just a touch of sugar.
Rating: 4

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Three more additional Vera Bradley Wallpaper downloads for Winter 2014!

Anxiously awaiting the Spring 2015 colors, but in the meantime - here are three more of the Winter 2014 tech wallpaper downloads for desktop, iPad and mobile devices.  (I love the leather one!)   
Click here for Cherry Blossoms and Emerald Paisley post.

Leather Magenta

Midnight Houndstooth

Midnight Paisley

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Upcoming Jo-Ann's Pattern Sales

They are all on sale this month!  Start your New Year's resolution to sew more in 2015

January 11-17
5 for $5 Simplicity

January 18-20
$2.49 Burda

January 22-24
$1.99 McCalls

January 30-31
$1.99 Butterick
$4.99 Vogue

Friday, January 02, 2015

Netflix Stars - Midnight in Paris

5 stars!  Another "run out to Target and get my own copy!"  We watched this New Year's Eve.  LOVED IT!  Owen Wilson was great, it was fun to see these artists and writers come to life.   Just a magical movie.