Pencil to paper Challenge (Day 1) – Ship

We are taught how to draw from a very young age by first coloring existing images and then drawing with pencils. And it’s usually something simple like shapes, but this helps to enhance and improve creativity so we start drawing on our own.

A lot of us have been sent to art classes…. I know I was, for about 12 years, and I used to love it. I would take my sketchbook and pencil and just draw whatever I wanted to. No hassles of coloring within lines or using markers and staining your clothes.

The older I got, I realized how little of that remained within me and I wanted to change that. So I challenged myself to draw something for 10 consecutive days using only a pencil on paper (preferably white) but I tend to use whatever scraps I find as a form of recycling.

I will be creating more personal challenges like this one, just to get back into a routine of sorts. The next one will be a canvas based challenge.

For my first day, I decided to go back to what I learnt from art class and drew a ship with some shading for contrast 🙂 I will be posting one image every day for the next week.

pencil ship

I would love for you to join me in this challenge. Get that fresh creativity flowing through your veins all the way through your fingers into the pencil 🙂

Refreshingly Cool Summer Drinks

Hot, humid weather is upon us. Why not cool off with some wonderful cocktails and iced teas? I would like to share a few of my favorite recipes (alcoholic / non-alcoholic) that do not require more than five ingredients. Enjoy 🙂jy

One of the most wondrous drinks I found recently was from the Verdi Sparkletini Collection, available online or at local stores like World Market or Walmart. These drinks are quite cheap as drinks go, only $6-$7 and they have different flavors – Strawberry, Peach, Green Apple etc. You can have them plain, straight from the bottle or mix with other drinks. My first two recipes involve two of the Sparkletinis.

Peach Mimosa:

  • Peach Sparkletini by Verdi 750mlVerdi Peach Sparkletini (chilled)
  • Brut Champagne (chilled; a small bottle was enough for 8-10 mimosas)
  • Sliced peaches and mint for garnish

I used a 0.5:1 ratio of the champagne and sparkletini but you can always add more champagne to give it a kick. Pour 1 cup of the sparkletini into your flute and measure out 0.5 cup of champagne to pour on top. You can add peach extract, if you so wish, but the sparkletini has a great flavor on it’s own. Finally garnish with a peach slice and some mint.

Apple Ginger Martini:

  • 44134_XXX_v1Green Apple Sparkletini (chilled)
  • Your choice of Vodka
  • 1.5 inch piece of ginger, finely grated
  • 1-2 tbsp Honey
  • Crushed Ice

Use a ratio of 1:2 for vodka: sparkletini. Add the vodka and sparkletini into a cocktail shaker with a little bit of the grated ginger (5-6 slivers/glass) and honey and shake vigorously for a few mins. Use a strainer to pour the mixture into a pre-chilled glass containing some crushed ice. Add a slice or two of green apple and serve.

You can always add more ginger to give your drink an extra kick.

Sorry, I forgot to take a picture of the final drink. Just drank it as soon as it was done 😛

Kiwi Berry Mojito:thumb_600

  • Kiwis (sliced) and Blueberries
  • Slightly sweet rum
  • Club soda
  • Sliced limes and mint
  • Crushed ice

Add a few slices of kiwi, 7-8 blueberries and some mint leaves with some crushed ice at the bottom of your glass. Use a spatula to crush the ingredients together until the kiwi slices and blueberries are broken into smaller pieces. Add 1.5:1 ratio of rum to club soda and mix well with a stirrer. Garnish with lime.

 

Now, a few non-alcoholic drinks for the teetotalers out there.

Watermelon Cooler:images

  • 1 seedless watermelon (ripe)
  • Lime juice – 3/4 cup, chilled
  • Sugar – 1/2 cup
  • Mint – 1/2 cup, (half finely chopped and half as leaves)
  • Club Soda – 1/2 cup

Got this wonderful recipe from a restaurant… They were so sweet to share it 🙂

In a large pitcher, add 1/2 cup chilled lime juice, sugar and mint leaves. Use a spoon to crush the sugar crystals against the sides of the pitcher. Cut the watermelon into small pieces and blend with the remaining lime juice to get a smooth puree. Add this to the pitcher and mix well together. Finally, add the club soda, mix well and place in the fridge for 30-40 mins. Serve chilled over ice with a few mint leaves.

Lavender Green Iced Tea:IMG_2955

I came across a random, hole-in-the-wall cafe a few months ago that offered this tea, but hot. It tasted amazing and I wondered if this could be had cold as well. The experiment was a success..Yay.

The only difficult part is finding fresh lavender blossoms (mostly found in Farmers markets or natural grocery stores). You can also use dried lavender by getting it online.

  • 2 tsp fresh lavender or 1/2 tsp dried lavender
  • 4-5 green tea bags (depending on how strong you want it)
  • Honey or Agave

In a large pan, bring 2 cups of water to boil. Add honey, lavender and tea bags. Steep for 5-10 mins. Strain into a glass pitcher and let it cool. Pour in a glass with some ice and enjoy (Optional Step: Add some sprigs of lavender to garnish). You can also have the tea hot if you prefer.

Cherry – Coconut Water Cooler:IMG_2953

  • 15-20 cherries (pits removed)
  • 1 cup coconut water
  • 5-6 drops of lemon juice
  • Honey / Agave to sweeten (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a blender until you get a smooth mixture (optional step: add crushed ice prior to blending). Leave it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before drinking 🙂

Optional step: Add some pieces of cherry after blending.

 

Homemade repellant : Get rid of mosquitoes naturally

Summer is here for most of us. It is hot, hot, hot. But it also means lazing by the pool, picnics outdoors, grilling etc…. So many different ways to get bit by all kinds of gross bugs. Why not make your own repellant instead of using the chemical concoction sold commercially? Your skin will definitely thank you.

I share with you 2 recipes that I’ve used since I was a child.

Clove Repellant: Add cloves (10-12 pieces) to 20oz of rubbing alcohol in a sealed glass jar and let the cloves infuse for a week. Strain the alcohol into a new jar. Add equal parts of alcohol and almond oil to a spray bottle and liberally spray yourself before going outdoors.

Eucalyptus – Lavender Repellant: Add two parts of eucalyptus oil to 4 parts lavender in a jar containing pure water. Shake to mix well. Add desired amount to a spray bottle and apply. It smells heavenly and works wonders. You can also use this mix to soothe existing bites.

via Daily Prompt: Relieved

Boho Home Series: Recycled Bottles into Vases / Lamps

Instead of tossing your glass bottles into the nearest recycle bin, why not do something fun with them? This post explores glass painting as a way to revamp all your old glass odds and ends.

You will need:

  1. Glass Paints – See link (Joanns Glass Paint Set)
  2. Gold Lead – Link (Joanns Gold Lead)
  3. 1 glass jar / bottle
  4. Thin paint brush
  5. Pre-designed template (optional)

What you do:

  1. Wash the bottle with warm soapy water (add a drop of dish washing liquid to the bottle and gently scrub. Rinse well with warm water). Let dry completely.IMG_2086 - Copy
  2. Use the gold lead to draw your design (I got my design from Pinterest, they have a lot of options to choose from) on the outside of the glass, making sure the lead flows smoothly (you can put the design template to the inside of the bottle and tape it to keep it secure; draw over it with the lead on the outside).
  3. If you make thicker lines in some places, use the brush to make the lines thinner. Let dry for 24 hrs.
  4. Use the different paints to color in the design. The color comes out bright from the tube (see image below) but it dries a little darker, smoother and opaque to give a nice glossy sheen to the glass. The paint bottles have a nozzle allowing the color to flow out smoothly.        004
  5. You can either directly add color from the tube (see image below; image was taken from google search as a reference) or put it on a pallet and use a brush to put the color on the design. Make sure there are no bubbles when the paint comes out. If you have bubbles on the glass, use a safety pin to gently pop it. Let dry for 24 hrs.                  bevel1ill2
  6. To mix different colors together, add the 2 colors to the design or on a palette and gently blend the section where they meet using a brush (pop any bubbles that form with a pin immediately).
  7. If you accidentally put color on the gold lines, re-paint the lines with the gold lead, using a brush. Add gold dots below the lines for extra embellishment. Let everything dry for 1 day.
  8. Once dry, you can add flowers and use it as a centerpiece or place candles inside to make the colors shine brightly.

I had a spare piece of glass from an old broken frame that I washed, cleaned and decorated in a similar manner but using black leading instead of gold. You can either put it in a frame and display or leave it as is but place it somewhere unaccessible by children or pets.

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You can also purchase embellished stickers on a roll (Link: Michaels – Bling on a roll). I used some spare gold bling designs and pearlescent gem stones to decorate old wine bottles. These make excellent gifts for friends or sweet centerpieces. Just add some contrasting flowers to brighten up your room or long fake twinkly candlesticks to use as a soft-light lamp (See link Flameless Candlesticks).

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Recycle… Repurpose… Reuse

We have an abundance of plastic bags, bottles, soda cans, foil etc that gets accumulated every minute. It has already reached an overwhelming level, with no successful way to dispose or destroy. Why not just reuse them in other ways? Let your creative juices flow… Get some inspiration from the crazy cool images below 🙂

  1. Reusing soda tabs to create accessories and even functional, usable furniture.

 

2. Reusing soda cans in fun ways…. Maybe photo frames or wall hangings.

 

3. Repurpose old bottle caps to existing items, changing the look completely (in a good way of course)

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4. Do fun stuff with foil, it’s malleable and bendable and easy to use for sculptures. I love this image ♥ So creative.

aluminium-foil-self-portrait-20101120-165950

5. All the plastic bags we collect from grocery stores and can be used to make wall hangings…. jump rope…. shower curtains…… even clothes apparently.

via Daily Prompt: Create

Fireworks over Niagara

I went 2 years ago to Niagara falls in NY. I had been to Canada a while back to see the falls and wanted to check out the view from the US.

Luckily for us, they had special fireworks since it was right after July 4th. I managed to take a few shots with my phone. I’m pretty proud of how they turned out considering where we were standing and how much I had to zoom in 🙂

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via Photo Challenge: Focus

3D Realistic Tattoos

A tattoo is made by penetrating the skin with an ink filled needle, usually in the form of a design. The dermal skin cells are quite stable, so the tattoo is almost permanent. Some wonderful 3D tattoo artists have come up with amazing, almost unrealistic creations that take hours to ink in. First one’s my fav 😛

55072b48c96eaaa928fd4ff33b8e1111 6a4b1ec8ade2136894c5c652b24e1657 3d-tattoos-9__605

via Daily Prompt: Puncture

Create your own Tapering Candles

We all love candles. The soothing, relaxing fragrance blends that waft through your rooms, or at work, helps to relax you and de-stress. While short, fat candles pack in more scents, the long tapering ones add a touch of elegance to any occasion.

I came across an easy, slightly messy way to make your own tapers. I haven’t played with it yet but I will share the method for you to make your own creations, and we can share pictures later 🙂

Materials:

  1. Wax ( A lot of it) – Available at any local marts
  2. Wicks (preferably long ones) – Craft stores have a lot of options
  3. Some wood pegs or nuts to hold the wicks down – Also available at craft stores
  4. A huge pot to boil water
  5. A steel pan to melt the wax
  6. A pan of cold water
  7. Scissors

Process:

  1. Boil water in the pot and add the wax to a steel pan and place over the pot to melt (This takes some time, stir with a wood spatula gently to make the wax uniform).
  2. While the wax melts, cut your wicks to length, 12-16 inches and tie both ends with the pegs to hold them down.
  3. Once the wax is melted, add a few drops of essential oils, or food coloring, and dip the wick into the wax, leaving a little portion at the top free.
  4. Immediately, dip it in the cold water to cool it down and dry. Repeat this until you have the desired thickness (this is crazy messy so cover your floors and counter tops with newspaper).
  5. Remove the nuts from both ends and dip the base of the candle to seal the bottom (use a ruler to flatten the base while wax is still warm).
  6. Hang the top of the wicks through some hooks to air dry.

again this is hugely messy, but a lot of fun. Don’t feel bad if you mess up the first 3-4. It gets easier once you get the hang of it 🙂

via Daily Prompt: Taper

U-Turn to Utah – Part 3 ….. ART at Zion

IMG_2778The final most unexpected part of the trip was perusing the local craft stores to check out the beautiful sculptures, paintings and mixed media work. (Chk out parts 1 and 2 here: Part 1, Part 2)

First thing I noticed was this awesome sign in front of one of the stores 😛

 

The biggest highlight was leather art: faces sculpted and carved from leather pieces. I love the way everything blends together, with different colors and accouterments.

 

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The beautiful detailing of sculptures made using alabaster and marble was the next, most interesting part of the store. We stayed in this store for hours…. so many interesting things to see.

 

Wood carved, open candle holder… or just a center piece 🙂

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Lastly, we entered a rock / stone souvenir shop. They had collectible glass, semi precious stones, carvings on sandstone and rock, other native american trinkets and weapons. One piece of art I enjoyed was paintings done on rock, following the natural lines and patterns on it.

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Our final stop was at Oscar’s cafe for brunch where they had this awesome ashtray, sculpted from stone, to look like a man with his arms around his knees (the ashtray is the hat). Love it ♥♥

And of course who can forget re-purposing old books to hold jewelry and other trinkets….

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And making either deer or horses from old gnarled tree branches and roots.

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The entire experience was amazing. I should do a road trip just so I can buy some of these treasures and safely bring them home with me.