Friday, August 31, 2012

Latest Hungarian Folk Art Doodles

Some Hungarian Folk Art Flowers to share on Paint Party Friday.

In other news...we survived our first week of school and both kids are happy, especially my son, who had a rough year last year.  What a difference an engaging teacher makes!
I also survived my first week back at a regualr Bikram Yoga practice.  I went three times this week and I did not die!  In fact, I feel great.  I am so grateful that I can give myself the gift of Bikram Yoga.
Obi the puppy had his last round of shots.  I look forward to taking him the beach and hiking.  He loves wrestling with Io the kitty.
Since I have been exploring the world of smoothies lately I bought a Ninja blender.  I got the one that comes with single serving you can blend in the huge 72 oz pitcher or directly into a 16oz tavel cup.  Can I just say I love my Ninja.  I might sleep with it in my bed tonight...that is how much better it is than my old blender!  I've decided to embark on a smoothie only fast starting today.  So far, so good but we will see what happens tonight at dinner time.  I'm not sure how long this will last but no more than one week because next Friday I leave for my third annual girls weekend in Palm Springs.  There will be eating.  The next week, though...could go either way.  I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

I ♥ my freezer - my favorite freezing tips

Over time I have really learned how to use my freezer to help me save time, money and eat healthier.  Some of these tips might seem obvious to some of you but to me they were nothing short of revolutionary and they have changed the way I shop, cook and eat.  I save money buying in bulk or when produce is fresh and on sale and I know I eat healthier by making healthy foods more convenient to use.
Cooked Bean & Lentils. 
Often I cook a batch of beans or lentils but don't eat them right away but if you freeze the leftovers in a storage container then you need to take the whole container out to use them and sometimes I just want to grab a 1/2 cup of beans or lentils on a salad.  Here is a way to freeze them so you can just use what you need, keeping the rest frozen.

Spread beans (I have lentils in pictures below) in a thin layer on wax paper.  I even did a double layer to save space.  Lay flat in freezer until lentils are just frozen (you might want do the first step on a plate or small cutting board to make transferring to the freezer easier.)  Once frozen, drop them in a freezer container or freezer bag, removing wax paper.  Since they are already frozen they will not stick together in the bag and you can remove as much as you want without defrosting the rest.

Cooked (Turkey) Bacon
I love turkey bacon but occasionally I can't eat a package fast enough to prevent spoiling.  Use same basic method as above.  Lay slices so they are not touching one another on wax paper and freeze.  Once frozen store as desired. 
Time saver! Frozen bacon will crumble.  No need to get out cutting board and slice up.  Just crumble frozen bacon using hands directly into frying pan (or egg mixture as I do,) they defrost quickly when heated.

Onions or Garlic
Freeze chopped onions directly in a plastic bag, not need for single layers because they break up easily even after freezing.  This is great when you chop up a giant onion and don't need it all right away.  When it's time to use them I don't defrost them, I just add them frozen to my recipe.  If you are like me and usually sauteing onions in olive oil, use caution when adding the frozen the defrost in the oil there may be some spitting oil. 

This works really well for garlic, too.  Have you ever wondered who can use up those great bags of peeled garlic cloves available in some stores?  Freeze them!  You can also freeze unpeeled garlic.  Just separate out the cloves first. 
Time saver! Frozen garlic peels MUCH easier

Coffee or Juice 
Coffee is expensive and there is always some leftover.  Freeze into cubes then store in bags.  Use them in smoothies or iced coffee drinks.  Works great with juice, too.
I haven't met a fruit that doesn't freeze well for use in smoothies or recipes.
Below are bananas and strawberries that are getting too ripe, sliced and frozen directly in the bag.
Kale, Spinach or other greens.
I have been starting my days out with a green smoothie for breakfast for about a month now and I'm addicted but I don't have time in the morning to chop a bunch of kale.  The frozen method works so much better!  Wash kale.  Sometimes if the stems are really thick and tough I will remove at least the ends.  Freeze whole kale leaves in freezer bag.  Time saver! Once frozen gently smash kale inside bag, the frozen kale will break up into little pieces and you never had to pick up a knife.  I also freeze spinach and other greens, too.

See my previous post about freezing tomatoes. This bag is still in my freezer waiting for some cold fall or winter night when we want a yummy marinara.
 Do you freeze foods?  I'd love to hear your tips and tricks.
I'm linking up with  At the Picket Fence.  It's a great blog with lots of inspiration and great Friday link ups. Check them out!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Illustration Friday - Tall

We have a lot of these palm trees where I live and they are tall!
Acrylic on canvas pad
Washintonia Robusta
Mexican Fan Palm 
I didn't have to look far for inspiration. These are all views from our house.


Monday, August 27, 2012

Hello Monday

Hello Monday!  It's the first day of school.  My son was so excited (for the first time ever!) to go to school.  He is in the class he wants with his friends.  So happy to have him settled. 
My daughter had a rockier start...she wanted to sit next to a friend but instead is sitting in between two boys.  She was excited...for recess.  She's a happy girl, though, and will be fine by the end of the day.
First day at school means first day back to Bikram Yoga for me.  I've only gone to a handful of classes all summer.  I hope I don't die.  I will set my mat up in the back near the door and hope for a teacher who likes to give us a blast of cool air once in a while!

We had a lovely last day of summer:

Took Obi for a walk while waiting for the clouds to burn off.

Baby Blue Bellied Lizard

Surfing lesson...this was his first wave ever and he stood right up!

I made mini muffins so my kids could have a yummy treat in their lunches.

Linking up with Lisa.
 How was your weekend?  And how was your Monday?

Sunday, August 26, 2012


Here is what I worked on this started as a watercolor but ended up an acrylic.  I can't even guess how many layers of paint I have here and I'm still not sure about it.  I would like the water to look more translucent and I wish the breaking part of the wave wasn't as wide.  I messed with it and messed with it and eventually decided to put the brush down.  So here it is.  I tried to capture the way a wave curls.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Color in the Garden

There has not been a lot of art happening lately.  I have carpal tunnel syndrome which makes it hard to do much of anything.  I am currently challenging my brain by trying to work using shortcut keys and moving the mouse to my left hand...makes for a slower day, that is for sure.  Luckily my work has not been busy so I have been able to enjoy the beach and this last week of summer before school starts.  Today ended up with thick fog that never burned off close to the beach so I took my 50mm lens out into the yard to experiment.  I like the watery backgrounds of the pictures.

A dwarf pomegranate...I wish the little fruit was in focus instead of the leaves in the foreground but I could not get the camera to cooperate!  I had almost given up on this little tree, it's been years with no fruit.  I was thinking it was just an ornamental variety and so glad to finally see fruit! 
Despite my neglect I've still got roses.  These are called Strike it Rich.
A little bit of the tropics on a foggy day.
I never get tired of these tiny orchids.
Blood oranges!  Like the pomegranate, this is another first for this tree.  I can't wait to taste these.
Giant fern.
I wish I could remember the name of this one...another tropical addition to the garden.
Amaryllis belladonna.  We like to call them "naked ladies"
Pink Melaleuca
Another one whose name I can't remember!
15 weeks old.  One more week before we can take this little guy to the beach.
A monarch chrysalis.  My 7 year old daughter thought it was so charmingly located in this little opening in a rosemary bush that she called it "pixie hollow" and decorated it with flowers and pretty stones.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Hello Monday (A day at the beach)

With two weeks left until school starts, 4th grade! 2nd grade!, the weather has been great and I have been wanting beach time.  This is our local beach, those of you who follow my blog have seen this point before...I've painted & photographed it a bunch.  It's the beach I can walk to and often walk, run or bike past.
Ahhh...hello beauty

Hello pelicans
Hello sketchbook.  Watercolor pencils at the beach and then filled in with watercolors at home.

Linking up with Lisa

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Illustration Friday - Freeze

I have had trouble keeping up with Illustration Friday lately.  The word this week is freeze which is hard to wrap my head around...the morning fog hasn't been making an appearance and it's finally hot here.  Here is a painting I did years ago after a rare freeze.  The mountains were covered in snow, and it was freezing standing there.  This was actually my first real painting and hangs in my living room.

Snow over Lake Cachuma, acrylic on cavas. 

Polka Dots

I keep my sketching pencils and my beloved micron pens in this polka dot pencil case. 
I've had it forever.

polka dots!

on my art desk

on vacation

late night sketching

Current (and lifelong) Obsession

For the duration of the Olympics I have had my art supplies in the living room and I've been painting and drawing while watching TV.  My little art desk was looking dusty and sad so I cleaned it up and moved back in.  Here's what I have been working on current (and lifelong) obsession with Hungarian folk art.

all clean
watercolor and pen
acrylic on canvas pad
sketching a vignette from my mom's china cabinet
practice, practice
watercolor and pen
watercolor and pen
inspiration from the real thing