fun with watercolor

watercolor1

a bit muddy? yes! a lot of fun? yes!

Painting is something I really admire and try my hand at every now and then.  These days it’s been watercolor, specifically glazing or layering — more about that in a minute.

For me painting can be intimidating so I try to lower my expectations and just have fun, that way spontaneity can hopefully do its thing. The circles, above, were fun to paint but were also a great lesson in what not to do when glazing — more about that in an upcoming post.

I’ve got myself set up with the basics.  There are some very pricey paints, papers and brushes on the market but the word on the street seems to be that — for a beginner anyway — a good old Prang oval set offers decent smooth pigments for just a few dollars.  I decided to go with their 16-color set and so far it’s been perfect.

watercolor2

I spent a bit more on paper because when using a glazing or layering technique a thin paper will curl like crazy.  So I went with Bee’s 140lb cotton paper and I’m very happy with it so far.

When I began researching watercolor techniques online, I instantly wanted to focus on glazing because to me the amazing beauty of watercolor is its wateriness!  Glazing is basically watering down the pigment to a very sheer shade, adding other sheer layers on top of one another to create subtlety and depth.  When done right it is truly spectacular; here’s a quote from an artist named Birgit O’Connor who describes it way better than I can:

“Glazing is a term for layering or stacking color, for instance think of different sheets of colored glass or tissue paper one stacked on top of the other. You are able to see through the transparent layers to the ones below, glazing in watercolor is the same idea but instead using thin washes of transparent color. For the cleanest color mixing and purest glazes use only the most transparent color. The reason is these colors allow light to pass through and reflect off of the papers surface leaving beautiful jewel-like effects.”

Birgit’s site is chock full of info.  I also found a lot of great tips and inspiration from Sandrine Pellisier.  Her landscapes are beautiful and she was very gracious to show exactly how she achieved it.

More to come soon ~

st viateur ~ famous bagels of montreal

st viateur bagels

I was recently introduced to a taste sensation ~ Montreal bagels.  But not just any Montreal bagel, the St. Viateur Bagel.

A different breed than their New York cousin, the St. Viateur bagel is boiled in honey water and cooked in a woodfire oven.  From their website:

Each bagel is hand rolled, boiled in honey water, and cooked in a wood fired oven that was designed to both cook and flavour the bagel. What comes out of this process is a chewy, slightly sweet bagel that is incomparable to any other bagel being made today. We have never compromised quality for quantity, and because of this we have a limited amount of bagels that can be produced each day.

A family business and bonafide landmark, their flagship bakery is open 24/7 and makes 1,000 hand rolled bagels per day.  They offer sesame, poppy and plain and ~ yes ~ they ship to the states.

st. viateur bagel montreal

Online ordering is easy, but the minimum is 4 dozen so it’s important to know how to store your delicious bagels.

st viateur bagel shipping

Toasted up and topped with butter and jam, or cream cheese and lox ~ or whatever your heart desires ~ these are definitely worth shipping to your door.  They freeze well and have a sweet, nutty flavor and chewy texture that is truly unique.  Délicieux!

one lovely blog award

one lovely blog award

Many thanks to Amy at afternoon popcorn snack for presenting me with this honor!  Last week Dr. Dan kindly nominated me and I posted about it here with lots of great wordpress blogs.

If you haven’t already done so, when you get a chance go check out Amy’s lovely blog ~ between luscious recipes, beautiful photography and heartful writings, there is a lot to take in and to keep coming back for each day.

Thank you again Amy!

one lovely blog award

one lovely blog awardA big thank you to Dr Dan at mon food blog for sending this award my way!  He’s got some great recipes to share with an international flair {hey that rhymes!} ~ so when you get a chance click on over.

In accordance with accepting this award ~ these are the guidelines:

* thank the person who nominated you and link back to them in your post

* share 7 things about yourself

* nominate 15 or so bloggers you admire

* contact your chosen bloggers to let them know

~ ~ ~ ~

Okay, seven things…  I…

…love drinking coffee but my nervous system prefers tea

…share a home with two amazing little dogs.  We are in negotiations for them to clear their busy schedules and make an appearance on this blog

…am finding food photography to be challenging with a point and shoot camera ~ need to figure out a solution

…am going to save up for an slr camera ~ maybe the Nikon D3100 ~ any advice?

…was a raw foodist for a while in the ’90s and a fruitarian for a few months

…love the TV show The Layover

…recently bought a watercolor set and hope to reconnect with my inner painter

Here are the blogs I’d like to pass this honor on to {in alphabetical order}:

a modern christian woman

afternoon d’ lite

afternoon popcorn snack

biscuits and bobbins

confessions of a glutton

cooking with grace

dwitt opinions

flower city foodie

frozen moments

frugal feeding

jen maan in amman

maggies one butt kitchen

reini days

tasty thumb

the house by the sea – food waves

You are all a great inspiration!

Thanks again to Dr Dan ~ happy blogging!

an aside

the beastie boysBelow is a tribute to the Beastie Boys on their being inducted into the hall of fame, just before mca’s death.

Crazy, funny and intelligent ~ they broke the mold while having a great time!

http://community.digitalmediaacademy.org/tag/3-minute-rule

This is really more than an aside.

I’d also like to pay tribute to Levon Helm, a shining light with an incredibly soulful voice and talent.

Here’s a link to a fellow wordpress blog to see a show of The Band in their fine and final glory.

And here’s a link to a memorable and, for me, spine tingling performance by a great man.

levon helm

zingerman’s mail order {kiss your postman}

photo:  zingermans.comOnce again I’m a late bloomer to something so amazing and wonderful, so fun-filled and exciting, I don’t know how I made do without it.  Zingerman’s mail order!

I found out about this unique catalog last year and think I could spend every last cent within its pages.  Celebrity chefs including Michael Symon have mentioned the famous deli in Michigan as well as their monthly clubs and gift boxes.  Michael is a self-professed  bacon fiend and belongs to the bacon club; but there are many other fun and delicious options including brownies {which I sent to a relative and they loooved} and rare olive oils.

image:  zingermans.comOne item I have tried is the La Salamandra Dulce de Leche from Argentina ~ wow!  I do plan on making it from scratch one of these days ~ soon ~ but in the meantime this stuff is the real deal.  And they use it in their dulce de leche brownies.  Yikes!

But there’s more:  they have a flat rate category, where anything you buy ~ as much as you buy ~ ships for $9.99 per address!  We’re talking anything from $7.00 for olive-oil-packed anchovies…

image:  zingermans.com…to a $200 ultimate gift basket

image:  zingermans.com…and so much more!

Such gourmet greatness at such a great shipping price, you’ll want to kiss your postman when he hands it to you.  Or maybe just share a goodie from the box with him.  I’m in love with this catalog, not only because of the fine quality of their products but because they seem to be having a ton of fun and provide amazing customer service.  I like to continually support companies like theirs, and plan on doing just that.

versatile blogger nomination and nominees

versatile blogger nomination

A big thank you to Stephanie at a modern christian woman for nominating this blog for Versatile Blogger!

I’m not really sure how this all works, but I do know the rules of accepting the nomination are:

* thank the person who nominated you and link back to them in your post

* share 7 things about yourself

* nominate 15 or 20 bloggers you admire

* contact your chosen bloggers to let them know

~ ~ ~ ~

Well, here goes… some things about myself.

I…

  1. …love Irish-Celtic culture
  2. …am interested in greenhouse gardening
  3. …went to photography school years ago but am just learning to use a digital camera
  4. …could live on cheese and bread
  5. …love animals
  6. …dabble in making all-natural perfumes and skincare
  7. …am a vegetarian who eats fish

I’d like to nominate the following blogs, in no particular order…

Thanks again Stephanie!

ps:  Amy at afternoon popcorn snack just nominated this blog, so I’d like to give her a shout out of thanks and include that nomination here with Stephanie’s.  I’ve only been on wordpress for a month and don’t really know a lot of blogs, yet.  And I can’t think of seven more things to say about myself at the moment… so I’ll just say thank you Stephanie and Amy!

pantry perfection, part three

pantry stocking

The perfect pantry wouldn’t be complete without herbs, spices and other flavorings.  When it comes to sweetener types I don’t discriminate, I love them all and make sure I never run out.

In particular, raw honey is something that keeps well and is not only versatile but medicinal; and dark brown sugar is a must-have for me.  I often cook savory meals with it, just a small amount does wonders for a deep caramelized flavor in anything from tomato sauce to pea soup.

Since I will continue to mention “Italian seasoning” and “Mediterranean seasoning” a lot on this blog, I’d like to say from where I buy these wonderful blends and most other dried herbs and spices.   Mountain Rose Herbs is a company that to me surpasses anything else online or even from a local gourmet shop.  Their quality is just incredible and not only for culinary herbs; many of their other products line the shelves of my pantry.

pantry items

I suppose the last main area of the pantry to cover is grains.  Of course flour, rice and oats are basic staples that I try to have around in decent quantities.  Noodles ~ both Italian and Asian varieties ~ are also invaluable basics that I don’t want to run out of.  Rustichella pasta, which was pictured in an earlier entry, has the best flavor and texture I’ve ever tasted so I keep as much on reserve as possible.  It’s one of those items I treat myself to and for me is worth every penny.

Well, I’d thought of writing about pantry perfection simply to make a list of what my dream pantry would contain.  I guess my enthusiasm for photos and words have made me a bit long-winded, and delayed compiling an actual list.  Hopefully with a bit of focus and pen-to-paper, that list will be my next and final ‘pantry perfection’ entry.