30 December 2016

lunch at Yumm's

A quick sketch while waiting for our lunch at Yumm's; a bit wonky but it _was_ a bit dark!

29 December 2016

taking a break from sewing . . .

I've been spending my free time laying out, cutting, and basting together a vintage-style teddy bear -- not much sketching going on. But today I gave my hand muscles a break long enough to do a quick sketch. This pile of bits will be a small bear styled like early Steiff bears.

In the teddy bear craze of the 1980s, before companies like Boyd's Bears flooded the market with their mass-produced products, I was a teddy bear artist, designing jointed antique-style bears sewn of German mohair with authentic antique shoe button eyes; I sold them under the name of "Victoria's Waifs". Now as each of our grandchildren turn 7 years old, I use my leftover mohair to make them a bear of their own.

22 December 2016

for the sake of free shipping

I was ordering vitamins and supplements from Amazon and was just "that much" under the total amount required for free shipping . . . . so I bought this small black bag. Holds an amazing amount of sketching tools, easy to access, and even a regular-size sketchbook will fit in the main pocket.

I tried painting the "black" using lunar blue but even after spritzing the pan a few minutes before using, the color would not pick up or mix easily. It's been in the full-size plastic pan for several years (over half gone now) --- maybe it's too old? It's a PrimaTek paint from Daniel Smith.

19 December 2016

a few little sketches

When taking down a few notes at church, I distractedly draw what's in my line of vision . . . which much of the time is my own foot.

Or sometimes it's Macy in the row in front of me.

Yesterday it was my foot again, in a boot granddaughter Mikala gave me. 

17 December 2016

added to my little collection

Okay, I'll admit it. Sometimes I buy a gift for myself, "just because". I was replacing a few tubes of watercolor I was out of (Cheap Joe's carries Daniel Smith!) when I saw this little stainless steel palette. So I got one. It came with a #2 sable brush; I added my travel rigger brush from Rosemary & Co.

16 December 2016

lantana & our clouded yellow invasion

Our lantana is still blooming in spite of a recent frost . . . and it is still visited regularly by clouded yellow butterflies. In fact, this year has seen huge swarms of them --- When first seen, they appear to be small leaves drifting down from nearby trees but then they land on flowers and hold so still they make what was a shrub of red flowers change to yellow.

14 December 2016

odd rocks

Over the past few days I've been sketching a rock or two each evening. These are some of the more unusual ones picked up during our walks. The one in the lower right corner reminds me of a fossil but it's simply rock carved out by erosion. The red bits are red jasper; not sure of the other minerals. I had our youngest grandsons believing that the one in the lower left corner was a petrified dinosaur egg!

I painted these with a mixture of Daniel Smith and QOR watercolors, which are made with a different type of binder. I was curious as to whether they would "play nice" together --- they seem to work fine together.

08 December 2016

and yet another one . . .

On our recent trip to Fredericksburg, I purchased a tiny mint tin because it reminded me of a friend and co-worker who portrayed Rosie the Riveter in historic presentations. Teresa's aunt had actually been a riveter during World War II, and much of the material was based on her memories. And now the tin has been turned into a wee paint box. I tested my color choices on this page.

A silicon mini ice cube tray from Amazon was cut up to fit the tin with 9 spaces for tube paint to be squeezed into. While I was at it, I cut another to fit the Texas mint tin I purchased when we were planning to move to Texas. Formerly it held 6 half-pans of paint; now it can hold 12 colors plus a bit of a natural sponge.

The bare minimum of tools to take along with me . . . one of these tiny tins, a fountain pen, a waterbrush, and my journal.

07 December 2016

some really good BBQ . . . and a very large hot sauce

On our way from Pflugerville to Houston last Saturday, we stopped in Elgin for lunch. Southside Market must be really proud of their own original hot sauce, judging by the size of the bottle. Taller than the standard roll of paper towels! We didn't try any though; the brisket was amazing on its own!

06 December 2016

at long last, autumn

As much as I love living among the oaks, pine, and cedar in these wooded hills, every autumn I miss the colorful maple leaves we knew in our Kansas neighborhood. Recently the small ornamental trees in our yard __I think they are Mexican plum trees__ have begun to change colors. Not quite as colorful as our Autumn Blaze maple, but I love the reds!

01 December 2016

church sketching

A bit of sketching and verses from last night . . . and one of my favorite songs we sang. The fountain pen in my bag had brown ink, which does not show up as well as black on this red paper.

30 November 2016

more of Reece's & cohorts

This is just a few weeks after Reece's was rescued. She was still under 2 lbs. and had to be isolated from other family pets, being too small for flea and worming treatments or shots. She lived in an upstairs bathroom.

A week later, Bill needed to replace a faucet in that bathroom so I "kitten-sat" with her in the library. She insisted on trying to climb up my back -- Mikala later told me the wee thing loves sitting on her shoulder as she does her homework. As I tried to maneuver getting her litter box back into the bathroom when Bill was done, she escaped and ran straight down the hall to where Pumpkin (a large Maine Coon) was sitting at the top of the stairs minding his own business. She reared up like a grizzly bear and growled at him . . . and he ran away!

Mikala's two Maine Coon cats are baffled over the kitten's antics. Here they are, Mocha and Pumpkin, watching her at play. They don't seem to understand Bradley, the golden-Pyrenes mix, either; perhaps that's why he and Reece's have bonded together in friendship.

29 November 2016


Blogger is not working on my iPhone anymore. Testing a post here with Reece's, our granddaughter's newly rescued kitten. 

A calico named for the candy, her best friend is Bradley, a golden retriever-great Pyrenees mix.

Well, it worked this time . . . . after it crashed 3 times first. Googled suggestions online say to just post from the browser but I can't figure out how to add photos from my phone. The tab is there but it doesn't seem to work. Oddly, the blogger app still works on my iPad. Probably because the pad is an old version.

28 November 2016

new-to-me toys

I use Apple products (iPod, iPad, and iPhone) but have been backing them up to an iTunes app on my Acer Aspire mini notebook computer. I learned on a PC and that's what I'm comfortable using.

Recently I opened iTunes to sinc my iPod and add more music from CDs. A notification popped up saying there is a new version of iTunes, do I wish to update? This is a common occurrence every few months, so I clicked yes. After a long download and installation process, it said that iTunes was not installed correctly, I need to uninstall and reinstall.

After trying this several times, following instructions from the Apple web site, I still did not have iTunes on my PC. I know that Apple and PC do not play well together but this is ridiculous! I was only following iTunes' instructions and now I could not sinc any of my devices to the computer or add any CDs to my iPod.

Enter my hero, Jason (also known as our eldest son). He had an older MacBook Pro he was not using, so he set it up in my name and gave it to me. Because I had forgotten to de-register previous computers, I had trouble registering this one to my account. I did not know this --- I took it back to Jason to figure out and he did. The Mac's disc drive is not working, so he threw in an external disc drive -- the one I use with my Acer is not Apple-compatible.

He backed up my iPod to the Mac, then asked for my phone to back it up. Afterwards, he said I may have to reload my books --- I told him I don't have any books on my phone because there was no room (only about 5 gig to work with)Next thing I knew, he was removing my phone card and putting it in his old unused iPhone. So instead of an iPhone 5 with only 5 gigs to work with, I now have an iPhone 6 with an extra 59 gigs. I do think I will buy a different case for it though. Not fond of this one's colors.

I've been fighting some kind of sinus thing with headaches that keep me from sleeping, so I sketched all this in the middle of the night as it lay on an overstuffed ottoman (which is a faded, muted red, NOT pink). Sort of a messy 2-page spread, but it distracted me from the headache.

24 November 2016

ran(d)om bits of nature

Between tasks yesterday, as we got ready for family to arrive today, I sketched a few random bits of nature in my journal. Then free-brushed the heading . . . forgetting the "d" in random!

21 November 2016

testing QOR watercolors

I was ordering a few Christmas gifts from Amazon, but did not have quite enough to qualify for free shipping. So I fixed that . . . by adding a small set of QOR watercolors in earth tones. It made perfect sense to me at the time. Here, I tested the paints in my sketchbook -- They seem a bit more opaque than my favorite transparent watercolors, but I do like the brightness and they seem to mix well.

There is room to add a couple of Koi waterbrushes in the tin, but because the paints seem a bit "dryer" I think a real brush and water container will work better with these paints. They seemed to take _Forever_ to dry in the pans but that might be due to our humidity.

I had a couple of Ice Chips tins, which are already white inside, so I removed the lid from one to friction-fit on the bottom of the other one, giving added mixing space. Pans are secured with a dab of rubber cement. The 6 small tubes came in this huge tin which is too large to be a useful palette; I will probably just use it to store stuff.

18 November 2016


One last page from our trip to Fredericksburg: although neither of us are true shoppers, we did manage to buy a few things while walking through the historic downtown.

The first item purchased, with my love of history, was a $1 guidebook to the area's history. This was found at the National Museum of the Pacific War, where I also found the Rosie the Riveter mint tin. I once worked in a history museum and one of my coworkers did a re-enactment presentation of "Rosie". Teresa's aunt had been a riveter during World War II, so she drew heavily from those memories. The tin reminded me of her . . . and, yes, it _might_ become a mini paint palette some day!

In search of a light lunch, we stumbled upon Rustlin' Rob's. We thought it was a chili eatery; it turned out to be a shop full of cooking condiments! Everywhere we turned, there were samples of salsas, peppers, sauces (some over cream cheese, some mixed in sour cream), jellies, etc. Also set out were tiny crackers and pretzels to taste the samples with. We ended up eating samples for lunch -- who knew prickly pear jam could taste so good? The shop also offered several types of fudge; we bought a small sample to share later.

I will soon be decorating our wee cabin for Christmas __ we don't really care if it's decorated or not, but the kids and grandkids insist __ and our skinny alpine tree had no star. This star is simply twine wrapped around a wire base that was dipped in glue, then silver glitter. And though we have real mistletoe growing outside in a neighbor's tree, I like the "Texas" version using hot peppers.

14 November 2016

buildings, mice, and a lovely morning

We managed to walk the whole downtown of Fredericksburg several times, including a side street, admiring so many old buildings. I took photos rather than sketch on site since Bill is not a sketcher --- I didn't want to make him wait and we _were_ interested in getting the exercise. These are some of my favorite houses (plus one garage / carriage house). There were so many more downtown buildings I wanted to draw! This town really built them well, maintaining and repurposing them through the years instead of tearing down to make way for new.

We had an invasion of mice at church yesterday . . . of the chocolate-cherry-Hershey-kiss-almond slice species. Ms. B.J. has been playing with her food again and the kids loved them.

And this is my view as I edit and post these photos this morning. Not as many roses in bloom as we have recently had, but a lovely, sunny 59 degrees.

09 November 2016

some Fredericksburg wildflowers

From the Angels Lodge where we stayed in Fredericksburg, there was a walking path to the next street over, Main Street though downtown. Along the path many wildflowers and grasses were blooming. Also, in many places we walked as well as the countryside for miles around, the prickly poppy cactus was loaded with fruit. In one of the shops we stumbled upon, Rustlin' Rob's, we even sampled some prickly pear jam --- good flavor without being overly sweet.

08 November 2016

Nimitz Museum

The Admiral Nimitz Museum and National Museum of the Pacific War were very worth seeing, presenting the history and world events leading up to World War II while honoring those who served. When the city of Fredericksburg (Admiral Nimitz' home town) approached him with the idea of a museum, Nimitz gave two conditions: (1) that it would honor all who served, not just him, and (2) that the old Nimitz Hotel would be restored to how it looked when he grew up there.

After his parents died, he moved into the hotel owned by his German grandfather. The hotel prospered and an addition was added on that was shaped like a showboat (and yes, I wrote the wrong thing on my sketch page -- it was late at night). The Nimitz Hotel also became known as the Showboat Hotel. Years later the original was torn down by new owners --- although not an exact replica, it was restored to the former look when it became a museum.

As we walked the downtown area, I kept looking back at this portion of the building, how the sun made such interesting shadows at various times of the day. It was hard for me to capture in a sketch but I had fun trying.

The restaurants were great too, most serving way more than we could eat. I only sketched a couple of my favorites. 

07 November 2016

Sunday's sketching

Still playing around and distracted by other stuff . . . but I managed to sketch my iPod during church.

05 November 2016

appreciating our police force

After posting daily for Inktober, I'm being rather slow and lazy about posting the rest of our trip to Fredericksburg sketches. They will eventually show up here . . . But for now, this is what I drew last night while waiting for our meal to arrive.

Although Bill and I officially live in Brenham, we are actually much closer in distance to the small lake community of Somerville (once jokingly called "Some-other-ville" by a friend of ours). That's where our church family meets at Jubilee Christian Center. 

Last night our church invited the local law enforcement members and their families to have dinner on us at the local Mexican restaurant, just to show our appreciation of the difficult and dangerous jobs they perform in service to the community. Everyone who was able to come enjoyed meeting the policemen and eating together. Instead of eating 'too many' tortilla chips, I drew what was in front of me.

02 November 2016

more from Angels Lodge

I was going to add watercolor to this two-page spread, but later decided that I like it this way. This was drawn with a Lamy Safari, XF nib, with a mixed sepia ink made from leftover black and brown inks.

From the road, the bed & breakfast could not even be seen. We drove right past the entrance without realizing it. This is right in the downtown area but staying here felt like the middle of the woods.

 To enter the 1 1/2 acre property, we drove over this low-water bridge over the creek. I suppose if the creek flooded, the inn might be temporarily closed.

Hard to believe we were so near downtown Fredericksburg -- it was so peaceful and quiet! We loved being able to walk everywhere we wished to go. There was an easy walking path from the lodge to the main street with several wildflowers growing among interesting grasses. I took some quick photos to sketch them later this week.

I would have loved to just sit and sketch so many places! But this was Bill's birthday and he is not a sketcher, so I just took photos to draw from later.
This is the stairway leading up to our loft room. To the left of the stair the path leads to a large outdoor patio with fireplace, pool, and several gazebo chat areas. This was a delightful place to stay!

01 November 2016

Angels Lodge, my final Inktober sketch

The final day of  the "Inktober" drawing challenge found us on the road to Fredericksburg, TX. October 31 is Bill's birthday and his gift this year was a trip to the National Museum of the Pacific War and Admiral Nimitz' museum (Fredericksburg was his home town). He'd been wanting to come here since we moved to Texas.

The museums are a two-day event so I booked a reservation at Angels Lodge Above the Creek, a charming bed & breakfast that is hidden in the downtown area, within walking distance to museums, food, and shopping. This is a charming German community we are absolutely loving!

This detail I drew is a bit of the outdoor fireplace in the patio. I drew it Monday afternoon as we relaxed on the patio but added washes this morning, hence the fire no longer burning.

30 October 2016

our Texas-style water meter

Our log cabin is part of a small country community that shares a water well, and this is Bill's and my water meter. A big rock and plank of wood cover the access hole.

29 October 2016

our game day

I had a grandkid day with Jayna, Josiah, and Judah playing Legos, Wahoo, Yahtzee, and Webkinz after they spent last night with us. They went home this afternoon and I drew some of the games left on the footstool. 

Jason and Carrie came yesterday to celebrate Bill's birthday (a few days early -- his actual birthday is on Monday), with Jayna baking him a German chocolate bundt cake (very, very good!). Then today, Bill headed to San Antonio, helping a friend move his brother to a new apartment.

When we moved to Texas, Bill said this was the last move he'd make. But since then, he has helped move friends from Arkansas to Kansas, moved our son Jeff to a new apartment, moved son Jason's family to a new town, and now this friend's brother today. Never say never again!

28 October 2016

Inktober cup of tea

After early voting in Brenham this morning we planned on running a few errands, one of which was a visit to The Book Nook, our local used book store. But they open at 10:00-ish . . . emphasis on the "ish". So we walked around the downtown area, ending up at Park Street Bakery for coffee /tea. One of the few places that actually offers a selection of hot teas! Even though they are only from tea bags, not loose-leaf tea which has the best taste. Hey, I'm thankful just to get a hot cup of tea without the need to carry my own tea with me!

I began using the second of a set of three Field Notes memo books, which are easy to carry in pocket or bag. The cup and teapot were drawn with Noodler's Lexington gray, Platinum Carbon black, and Uniball Signo white gel inks, then I  added a bit of white gouache.

27 October 2016

today's inktober sketch

I jumped right in, drawing this odd-looking rock with black ink in a calligraphy pen and brush pens with Lexington gray and brown inks . . . then wished I had first plotted the shapes out with a pencil. Not very accurate, and the gray and brown inks went down a bit too dark. Afterwards, I added a bit of buff titanium watercolor and some white gel pen.

I found the rock among the river rocks at the edge of our patio --- it immediately brought to mind The Scream painting by Edvard Munch.

And this is the final sketch in this small Field Notes Memo Book. It came in a set of three; the others are a muted red and a turquoise blue.

La Carreta's, another view

This is along one outer wall of La Carreta's Mexican Cafe in Nacogdoches, TX. Bill took a photo of the old Pepsi sign so I could sketch it later. We both remember Pepsi being more popular than Coca Cola when we were kids, but now it's rare to see Pepsi being served around here. Of course, in central Texas it is all "coke" -- order a coke and the waitress will ask "what kind?" Apparently "coke" is synonymous with "soda" or "pop".

26 October 2016

Inktober, Monday and Tuesday

On Monday, Bill brought me a dead dragonfly he found on the ground to draw. One of the unexpected pleasures we have discovered since moving to central Texas has been the swarms of dragonflies that eat up the area mosquitos. And so many colors! Red, blue, green, and even black & white zebra-colored! They are amazing creatures and it's sad to find a dead one.

Tuesday we made an unexpected drive to Nacogdoches to help our son Jeff transfer some things to the person buying it from him. His car tires are not safe for out-of-town driving and the money for the items will help pay to fix that. He's busy with his new job but it takes time to catch up for the period of time when he was unemployed. And soon he will begin grad-school.

Our favorite Mexican restaurant in Nacogdoches is La Carreta -- an old water tower grain bin (Bill informed me of my error!) perched on the roof makes it easy to find. I planned on adding watercolor to the sketch but this particular brown ink melts a bit too much even after it dries. It is a Monteverde cartridge made to fit Lamy fountain pens. A beautiful brown, but not as useful for water-soluble ink & watercolor sketching as J. Herbin Lie de The brown ink.

24 October 2016

weekend sketches

Thanks to our friends Jonathan and Tay, who were unable to use their tickets, we went to the Celtic Thunder concert in Houston Saturday. Awesome music! While we waited in line, an elderly man in a kilt waited in front of us. I drew him and the group's name on this page but nothing else that night --- it was dark and I was enjoying the show. But afterwards, I added loose sketches of the guys from Internet photos. 

Then I drew this bit in church Sunday morning . . .

22 October 2016

Giddings courthouse

The historic Lee County courthouse in Giddings, TX has recently been restored. Whenever we've found ourselves in this town between Brenham and Austin, we have driven by to check the process. It really is a beautiful piece of architecture!

I drew this with a Sailor Fude de Mannen pen and the black ink cartridge that came with it; when it empties, I will fill the cartridge with water-resistant ink instead. I had this just as I wanted it and laid it open on a footstool to dry. Bearcat then came along and decided to taste the paper with his tongue, resulting in a smear. Weird cat!
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