Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Finally! But don't spiders have 8 legs?!

After two years, my spider lily (Hymenocallis Occidentalis) has begun to bloom!

I had purchased a leafy stalk/bulb, at what I thought was a pretty high price - $18.  Someone had brought them into a local garden shop to sell - right time, right place, right?  They were all raving about it.  

It had nice, shiny green leaves, but no blooms, so no clue as to how it would look, other than the promise the flowers would be white and spider-y.
Nothing the first year.
Nothing the second year.
It looked nice in the garden and seemed impervious to dismal drought conditions and the pests succumbing my other plants.  Just a very green leafy reminder of my frivolous fiscal folly.  
And finally, the third summer, hubby comes inside to announce a stalk of buds suddenly appeared! Hooray!  The teasing will stop and blooming commence!
This is what transpired over a 24-hour period.

Late in the afternoon before 6 PM

Bonus photobomb of anole lizard gecko!
Here it is less than two hours later, a little after 8 PM
But the next day. . .
Well, hello!
What a pretty center!

I'm more impressed now!
Perhaps all it needed was all the crazy rain we've been having, just like my rain lilies need the rain to bloom.   
And time and patience and taking a chance.  
Just as in life...and trying to garden in Texas, right?  

Monday, June 29, 2015

Waterbrushed Watercolor Fig

I'm having fun learning to master using a water brush to water color.   This is the first fig of 2015 we harvested from our Celeste fig tree.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Garden Update - Come rain, come shine.

Good morning, Lily!
Captured this morning sunlight shot of a post-Tropical Storm Bill rain lily this morning.  Rain lilies will only bloom after it rains.  Regular watering will not trigger flowers.  The seed pods around it were from the Memorial Weekend storm.  Here's one I am drying to send to a friend (Hi, MK!)
Inside a rain lily seed pod

Friday, June 19, 2015

Mix It Up!

Here are some of my favorite seasoning mixes -- I like making my own to avoid the additives, extra salt and sugar, and anti-caking ingredients the commercial mixes have.

Bonus, many spices have positive health effects.   Did you know these spices have and can. . .

Black pepper

May help lower blood glucose:
Bay leaf

May have antibacterial properties:
Lemon grass

So here's to your health, more money in your wallet, and good eating!

Poultry Seasoning

1 teaspoon each:  dried rosemary, sage, thyme, marjoram and celery salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Pinch of nutmeg.

I usually double or even triple the ingredients to store in my spice jar.

Poultry Rub

1 teaspoon kosher salt or 1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander (optional for me)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne

Makes about 3 tablespoons, enough to season a 4 pound whole chicken or 8 bone-in or boneless chicken breasts.

Enchilada Sauce

15 ounce can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon chili powder (or a little less for less heat)
1/2 teaspoon salt
a few shakes of garlic, onion and chipotle powder

Simmer for 20-30 minutes.  Makes enough sauce for 9-10 enchiladas.

Cajun Seasoning

1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 teaspoon rubbed sage
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Great recipe - Coat 4 lean boneless center cut pork chops 1/2" thick on both sides.  Heat 2 teaspoons butter over high heat until it starts to brown.  Put chops in pan, reduce heat to medium.  Fry on both sides until dark brown, about 6-8 minutes.

Another Cajun Seasoning

2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

Mediterranean Spice

1 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Great recipe - 2 large sweet potatoes (~2 pounds) skins on, scrubbed and cut into 4" sticks each 1/2" thick, 3 large egg whites (a scant 1/2 cup.  Preheat oven to 450 with racks in upper and middle positions.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and rub with oil.  Put sweet potatoes in microwave safe container, cover and micro 2 minutes.  Stir gently, cover and micro 1-2 minutes more until pieces are pliable.  Let rest 5 minutes covered, pour onto platter.  In large bowl, whisk egg whites until frothy, add Mediterranean Spice and whisk to blend.  Toss the sweet potatoes in the seasoned egg whites and place on single layer on prepared baking sheets.  Bake 10 minutes, then flip over with a spatula.  Rotate sheets and bake another 15 minutes or until dark golden brown.  Serve immediately.

Grilled Vegetable Seasoning

Bonus it is salt-free, you'll never miss the salt!

1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon tarragon (optional for me)
1 teaspoon dried chives (optional for me)
1 teaspoon majoram
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried savory or rosemary
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

No Taco Bueno

Ouch!  I may just go back to making my own taco seasoning.  I will admit Penzeys has some terrific blends and spices and seasonings, but this latest price jump for my usual 3/4 cup bag of Bold Taco Seasoning has me rethinking this particular purchase in the future and going back to making my own.

(By the way, I do love Penzeys Apple Pie Spice on oatmeal in the morning with toasted walnuts and chopped apple.)

c. 1995  641.5
ISBN: 1-55561-073-0
I love this Make-A-Mix book by Karine Eliason, Nevada Harward and Madeline Westover.  I still have the receipt from the now defunct Crown Books wherein I paid by check on February 7, 1996 for $17.49 including tax.  (I saved 10%!)  It also has great recipes.
I leave out the cornstarch and reduce the salt

Through the years, I have also scribbled, stuffed and taped my own mix recipes to the pages, which I shall also post later today.  Gotta keep my Foodie Blogroll bonafides! ; )

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Thursday Tea Time - It's Greek to me

This week - Anassa Organic Mint Tea  (click here for the English link)

Cost: $9.74, clearanced-priced from Central Market's Greek Festival
Size:  0.71 ounces, approximately 20 cups.
Caffeine:  No
Type of tea:   Herbal
Steeping time:  5-7 minutes
Mix ins:   None
Fragrance:  Mint
Ingredients:  Greek Mint (Mentha piperita)
Opinion:   Well-earned "Great Taste 2014" award.   I admit, I bought this tea for the tin and the cute Teumession Fox drawing.  I figured the tea would be bonus.  And it was!   It is very minty.  This is probably the mintiest tea I've ever had.  Even after the second brewing from the same tea bag.  The taste and flavor linger nicely behind in your mouth.   I had no idea mint had anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial  properties.   Per the English insert, mint is also used to strengthen the immune system and treat the discomfort and symptoms of upper-respiratory illnesses as a natural decongestant and expectorant, a remedy for digestive discomfort - knew that, and it may prove beneficial in reducing depression, relieving stress, tiredness and aiding in sleep deprivation and insomnia.  After reading all this, I drank two cups!  : ) I also like how it has its own tea bags (20) and brewing stick holders (6).   Maybe Central Market will bring this back if they have another Greek Festival next year.

Update 6-23-15 - Good news!  I was in Central Market the other day, and checked to see if perchance there may still be a few remaining tins.  Lo and behold, there were!  Along with the tag of "New Item" and the price raised to $12.99.  They have this tea, the Mountain Tea and Lemon Verbena.  Look for them on a rack near the coffee bean area, facing the cooler/freezer area. 

Update 7-3-15 - Even better news!  If you look by the regular racks of tea, you will also find this, and at the $9.74 price.  However, be alert when they are ringing it up, as it will come up as $12.99.  They will adjust and lower the price, at least they did today.

Rating:  5
Bonus photobomb of "Bill" the Anole lizard escaping the rain
from Tropical Storm Bill
He's between the screen and the sliding glass door,
not inside the house

1 gram

Brilliant!  It has its own tea bags
and stick holders

My, what big leaves you have!

Cool idea!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Watercolor Wednesday - Oyster Pearl

watercolor, 4" x 3 1/2"
All art is autobiographical.  The pearl is the oyster's autobiography. 
~ Federico Fellini

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Time and Space

Last Friday, two of my painting buddies and I had a chance to attend a watercolor journaling workshop with Kathleen McElwaine.

She has a very interesting and unique painting technique, using water brushes and adding playful lines around the finished watercolor, and keeping some white space around the colors.  I also liked to hear about her ways to use a sketchbook journal, along with the importance of making time each day to paint and play.

Here is one of my first attempts trying to use a watercolor water brush.  I think by the time I worked around the petals, I was getting the hang of it, learning balancing the flow of water and paint distribution.   (Once I figured out you turn the brush counter-clockwise to put it together. . .) My Koi brush I used did not leak from above-the brush barrel as the Pentel ones I tried earlier.

Rain Lily
And of course, never letting an opportunity or a discount to get new toys, er, supplies, I bought a tube of Daniel Smith Lunar Black, a neat granulating black.  

Lunar Black
Daniel Smith watercolor

Friday, June 12, 2015

Upcoming Jo-Ann's Pattern Sales

There is still time to catch the Jo-Ann's Firefly Frenzy (June 7-13)
Simplicity patterns $1.99

And you know their Fourth of July sale is just around the corner...
(bet those Simplicity's drop to 99c...)

Hot Buys - June 7-20
Muslin 50% off
Linings and interfacings 50% off
Gutermann thread  50% off
Quilting notions, sewing and quilting cutting tools - 40% off
Red Tag fabrics and trims - 50% off

June 14-20
McCalls - 5 for $7
Vogue - $4.99

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Thursday Tea Time - Life Supported

This week - The Steeping Room Life Support 

Cost: $8
Bag size:  2 ounces
Caffeine:  No
Type of tea:   Tisane
Steeping time:  5 minutes
Mix ins:   Just a little bit of Pure Beeing honey
Fragrance:  Spearmint
Ingredients:  Organic Holy Basil (Tulsi), spearmint, rosehips, lemon myrtle and linden blossoms.
Opinion:   What a great-tasting tea!  I think though their description "A wellness tisane meant to support your body..." sounds better than Life Support tea.  Just sayin'.  First the scent and flavor of the lemon myrtle and linden blossoms delights, then finished with spearmint.   Tulsi (Holy Basil) is kind of a cool plant with an interesting variety of medicinal uses.  (Check out what WebMD says about it here.)  Bonus that this tea lists it first and that the other ingredients make the tea taste so good and is so good for you.
Rating:  4.75

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Silently, Ready for Elsa

Brown Pelican in Galveston, Texas
12" x 9"

Yellow Evening Primrose
In the sand dunes  on Stewart Bearch
Galveston, Texas
7 1/4" x 6 1/4"
These were painted and donated to a silent auction - they sold for $47!  Wow!
I also did face painting for the little (and some big) ones.   I was all set for Elsa and other "Frozen" character  designs, but as it turned out, vampire teeth were the most requested.  Oh well, I was still able to put my pearl, silver and white paints to good use.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

This week - Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Support At Home Black Tea

Cost: $8.99
Number of teabags:  20
Caffeine:  Yes
Type of tea:   Black
Steeping time:  5 minutes
Mix ins:   Just a little bit of honey
Fragrance:   Pleasant.  Slightly woodsy with a little bit of chocolate
Ingredients:  Black tea
Opinion:    Finally!   I was able to find the annual Support Our Troops Tea.  After three years of bupkis in all of the Austin locations, I found this in Phoenix/Peoria, Arizona.  This will make a nice change up to alternate in the mornings with my English and Irish Breakfast teas.  Or if I need a little kick start in the afternoon.  

I know I've been awol from my blog this month, but I've been traveling.  Thank you for all your concern about our well-being, especially in light of the flooding in the Houston area.  We were lucky this time; some of my friends, not so much.  Please continue to keep Texas in your thoughts and prayers.

And stay tuned for upcoming tea reviews from teas I found in Flagstaff at Steep.  And a photo of my Cinnamon Matcha Tea Latte I had there you will have to see to believe!  I am now kicking myself for missing Trailhead Tea in Sedona.  I saw their teabags at Firecreek Coffee, where I had an excellent homemade chai tea, and had no idea there was a store/teahouse, too.  Thank goodness for online shopping.  And a next visit!
Rating:  3.5

Rather robust!