Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Warrior

February is almost over and I am far behind with my 29 Faces. Oh well...

Today, I only have one to show you, and I will also link this one to Paint Party Friday. This is the Warrior, based on a photo I found on Pinterest.

I'm sorry that I'm not in Blogland very often these days. My Dad died a week ago. I hadn't seen him for almost five years. We had planned to travel to Germany this summer and celebrate his 90th birthday together. Monday a week ago he went to bed in the evening and peacefully died in his sleep during the night. He is with my Mom now which is what he has always wanted since she died almost exactly seven years ago.

I will be back soon.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Carrots Anyone?

For the 29 Faces challenge I painted a few faces on ATCs - I wanted to try this smaller format and see how I like it. I like it a lot!

The top one emerged after I had worked on some Irish blessing tags for my shop - the Irish girl appeared almost on its own. Of all the girls here she is my favorite.

Then there's another Arab woman, this time with watercolor crayons. The stars I added with a gold PITT pen that I discovered at Michaels shortly before Christmas.

The head of this girl is heart shaped and I decided to go with a summer theme - flower in her hair and a butterfly buzzing around her. The name "Angelique" popped up.

I wanted to paint the face of a little girl, but that didn't work out. This is actually done on a piece of watercolor paper scrap, it's smaller than an ATC.

And finally a charcoal girl - the face is wayyy too long, she looks more like a horse! I'm tempted to offer her a carrot....

I'm linking to Paint Party Friday.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Dreaming up Beautiful Garden Dreams

A few days ago I created an account on Pinterest. I thought it might be another good venue to promote my shop. Well, that may be true, but I didn't take into account that I would find SO MUCH inspiration there. Beside being awfully addictive, it has a never ending supply of inspiration for everything garden. I have created my own "in the garden" board and look through other people's garden boards, finding more and more ideas. I'm sitting here, dreaming up what my garden will look like this year. And I can't wait to get started.

My garden is very quiet at this time of year. The last (and first) strong rain has left the ground wet which of course is good because this is how it should be in a Northern California winter. A few daffodils are already blooming and I can see where all the poppies - native and oriental - will present their color show later in the year.

The most active life in the garden takes place around the bird feeders where the squirrels and birds fill their bellies. Even a couple of crows comes by every morning. The scrub jay is happy about the shelled peanuts I put up on the trellis. Some of the birds still enjoy the remains of the sunflowers from last summer.

Our biggest project, however, is building a fence around our front garden. We first thought to build a white picket fence, but when we realised that we repeatedly have to paint that fence, we quickly looked for an alternative. Well, we're living in the area of redwoods, so this was a natural choice. The wood has a beautiful red shade that I love, even though it changes with the year and weather. The Geek drew a plan, and now he's busy cutting the wood with his miter saw. He also digs the holes for the posts, and I drill and screw. Sometimes Kaefer helps as well. It's a huge area and it will take us several weeks until the fence will be finished. We will be so proud then!

But what I want to do most is work in the garden - dig in the soil, get my hands dirty, see something grow.

I want to use these tools, prepare the soil for the veggies, pull weeds, collect leaves. I want to clean out used flowers to make way for new growth.

I want to feel the pruners in my hand while I go from plant to plant and do what I have to do.

I can't wait to prepare the raised beds again, mix organic matter in, think about what to plant where and which tomatoes to try this year. Will there be Charentais melons again? Can I start with the seeds? Should I try a different variety of zucchini? Which peppers? Of course I want to try more heirlooms!

But most of all - I want to fill these big pots with new veggies, tomatoes, zucchini and peppers and see all the greens and colors come back into my garden.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Losing my Faces?

Well, of course I'm not losing them... but I'm trundling behind with my 29 Faces, way behind. It doesn't really come as a surprise - was I ever able to do these kind of challenges completely AND stay on time? I think during all my online classes and challenges that only happened once.

So I want to show six more of the faces I have done so far. The one on top was another one with the spray ink technique, but I don't like this one as much as I did the first one. The girl with the long red braid is Eleanor - I just love to draw/paint girls. It gives me so much pleasure. I wish I was more able to paint more expression in their faces - I still have so much to learn.

Then I thought it would be nice for a change to paint something completely different and still stay within the face-frame. That's how this little star was born.

But in the end I went back to girls. The following was just a practice sheet done on some piece of copy paper. I have never been good in painting profiles. Tam showed us how to do it in Life Book 2014, and with that it was easier. But I wanted to practice it before I started painting on the "big sheet".

And here is week 6 of Life Book - spray inks and acrylics. This lesson was so much fun, and I quite like it.

My plan had been to link up with Paint Party Friday, but I'm way too late for that now.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Pink Dessert for Valentine's Day

Desserts are always good, but if it's pink it's almost perfect for Valentine's Day. No, I am not talking cupcakes with pink frosting here. I'm talking - Raspberry Mascarpone. I found this recipe when we were still living in Germany. We already liked it back then, but since we moved to the States it has been a hit whenever we brought it to a party, potluck or served it after dinner. It is sinfully good!

What you will need:

400 g raspberries (fresh or frozen, thawed)
Juice and zest of half a lemon
2 egg yolks
50 g sugar
250 g mascarpone (if you can't get the Italian one, Trader Joe's is very good as well)
75 g yogurt (I use Greek yogurt)
200 g Cantuccini (Italian hard almond cookies)

Put a few of the raspberries aside for decoration. Puree the others with 1 tbsp. lemon juice.

Beat egg yolks and sugar until creamy.

Blend in marscarpone, yogurt and pureed raspberries (you get this cool marble effect while doing so). Add 1 teaspoon lemon zest.

Cover the bottom of a shallow bowl with the cantuccini.

Pour and spread the raspberry cream on top of it. Refrigerate for at least five hours (better overnight).

Decorate the dessert with fresh raspberries.

Enjoy with your loved ones!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Be Careful What You Wish For

While we were heading into the fourth straight year of drought - and the worst of them - many of us wished for rain. People were talking about the lack of rain, there were prayers for rain and even rain dances.

The wish for rain.

It finally came this past week. Slowly first - a nice steady but not heavy rain that made the ground wet. After another day of sunshine and rather cool temperatures the rain returned on Friday and came into full force on Saturday.

It was pouring. Big time.

And our dry land was reacting like a desert - with flash floods.

As you can see in this picture, despite the drought there were people who still watered their lawns... I guess some people just pretend there's no problem at all.

Our street was flooded in no time at all. The top picture was taken from our front door, the second one from our garage. Both were results to completely clogged drains. The flash flood came from a tiny creek that is supposed to go underground here, but since the drain was so much clogged the water found other ways to pour into the street. Since all the drains were clogged here as well, the chain reaction was foreseeable.

Can you see all the debris that was coming with the water?

After a couple hours, the city maintenance staff  fortunately came out and cleaned out the drains. Now the streets aren't under water anymore, but the amount of debris is appalling.

It is still raining, and that is good. Even though we've got so much rain, the danger of drought is far from over. We need much much more rain to get back to a "normal" year. There are two more rain storms later in the week on the horizon.

This is a very bad picture of Kaefer standing in the flooded street - but it gives you an idea what it looked like here for a few hours. The water, of course, got into her boots... Wonderful to see that teenagers still can be like little kids. I was ready to put on my rain boots as well and go puddle jumping with her like we used to do when she was little.

What does your weekend weather look like?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


On we go with the 29 Faces!!

Please meet Rose - I called her Rose because she reminds me a little bit of Rose in "Downton Abbey". I know she doesn't look like her, it's just that something reminds me of her.

She was done with Caran d'Ache watercolor crayons. I like to work with them more and more - they are easy to blend and it's just plain fun to play around with the color.

After I had scanned Rose, I played a little bit in Photoshop, I couldn't help myself. Here she is in black & white, probably what she would look like if I had used charcoal and the graphite water soluble pens by Faber Castell, one of my new favorites.

Then I added a texture because I was just curious what Rose would look like with that. I think it added some interest to it.

Today's face is the "splatter girl". I just sprayed some ink sprays on watercolor paper and then added the face with a black PITT pen. The spray inks are not permanent, so when I went in them with a gray PITT pen the color would spread. I liked the effect and think I will do something like that again.

I like all the experimenting and playing that 29 Faces provides. It's not overwhelming - today's face didn't take longer than 30 minutes - and I start to loosen up with it and play more. It's fun!

I'm also linking to Paint Party Friday.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Here Comes the Rain Again

Finally we had some rain. Yesterday it started to rain about six o'clock in the morning. It was lovely lying in bed and listening to the pitter patter of the rain on the roof. Unfortunately, the rain stayed just for one day, by far not even close enough to change anything in our drought situation. All we got was six-tenth of an inch.

So it was a rainy Sunday. Perfect excuse to be lazy! I took out my coloring pencils and started drawing a girl in the rain. Judging from her face, she's not quite as excited about the rain as I am... well, perhaps she lives in Oregon or Washington or even BC where they have much more rain.

This morning, when I started face no. 3 for 29 Faces, I went to a different climate - the desert. Again I used coloring pencils. I never really worked with coloring pencils, and I quite enjoy it, but I am not sure that I use them the right way. However, I'm having fun with this!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

A Meditarranean Surprise

This February I'm taking part in 29 Faces - the first and last time I did was in February 2012, and I missed it ever since. But not this time!!!

This morning I wanted to paint a woman's face. I started out with a triangular shaped face, added nose, eyes and mouth - and while I was working on it I noticed that this face wasn't female at all. Just the opposite.

What a surprise! This Mediterranean man took shape - pretty much in its (his?) own. I've never painted a man's face before. Boys' faces, yes. But men? I didn't even know I could do that.

But here he is. My first of hopefully 29 faces. Not the man I would fall in love with, but not bad either...