Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spring Awakening

Welcome Spring.  We thought you had arrived weeks ago but that arctic storm last weekend proved otherwise.  We've moved our clocks ahead and are ready to enjoy the long days.  You're peeking out and we're ready for you.  Today I was lucky enough to capture this image of a honeybee gathering nectar and pollen inside this pretty, yellow flower and I am grateful to have captured such a lovely spring image on this first day of the new season.  I enhanced the image with a few hue saturation and level adjustment layers using layer masks and two layers of Kim Klassen's Aurora texture.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Upcycled tee shirt

Great rainy day to stay inside and do some DIY projects, catch up on reading and recorded TV shows such as Smash which I am really enjoying and relishing that I have four to watch.  It's so much fun to be able to watch more than one episode at a time.  Anyway... thought I'd try my hand at making a scarf out out an old tee shirt.  Have you seen them?  I have some pinned on Pinterest and here is the link the original DIY video.  http://studio5.ksl.com/index.php?nid=61&sid=14428842&s_cid=E0002

 I decided to make it my own by dying both silk and the tee shirt cotton fabric and combining them together to make an original funky no-sew scarf.  Here's my DIY instructions and my first finished scarf...voila!

Hand dyed silk and cut up cotton tee shirt
I gathered different kinds of white silk like china, gauze and chiffon and a bunch of old tee shirts that I saved from various 5K fund raising races where I got so called free tee shirts when registering.

White vinegar is the mordant I used.

I soaked all the fabric (silk and cotton tees) in a mixture of vinegar and water for 1/2 hour

I tied up some of the fabric and others not.

I mixed up acid dyes and put it in a gallon size zip lock baggie along with the fabric.  Acid dyes are best for silk and wool which are animal fibers; you really should use protein dyes for vegetable fibers like cotton.  But acid dyes were all I had so the dyes did not take to the cotton as intensely as they did to the silk.

Make sure that all the air is out of the baggie, zip it and put it in the microwave for 1 minute.  Check it and push the air out of it.  Repeat 4 or 5 times.

Rinse the fabric in cool water and use some Synthropol which is a gentle detergent.   I then put everything in the dryer.

various shades of gray

Cut off the hem of the tee shirt and then cut horizontal strips about 1" wide .  Stretch the strips to make narrow bands.

Assemble the scarf to your liking.  Enjoy.

A nutritious and delicious dinner

My BFFs and long time friends Erin and Amalia came over for dinner last night.  We get together for a 'girl's night in' at least once a month and have been doing so for years now.  Last night Amalia brought her two awesomely well behaved sons Elias and Joshua since her husband Robert had a last minute opportunity to go skiing at Mammoth.  We were going to order out (or is it order in?) but I told them  that I had lots of food in my frig and that I'd make dinner.  

So without going to any trouble at all, I made a nutritious and delicious dinner for us girls while Amalia heated up mini frozen pizzas for the boys. 

Dinner - Quinoa with fresh kale & cranberries, chicken, grilled tomatoes, beets, carrots & yams.

Grilled tomatoes are so delicious and so easy.  These are Trader Joe's mixed cherry tomatoes.  Just add a bit of olive oil and some coarse salt.  I added some fresh rosemary too.  Grill in a hot 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes.

Trader Joe's now carries these thinly sliced fresh chicken breasts which is such a better size than those "honkin" big ones.  I seasoned the chicken with salt and pepper and then dipped each one in a lightly beaten egg white and then in a bread crumb mixture that I made by:   combining in my Cuisinart about 1 cup bread crumbs with about 1/4 cup parmesan cheese and handful of the nuts that I made the other day.   I grilled these in a bit of olive oil on a high heat.  It just takes a few minutes on each side and then voila...!  You can tent them in foil until the rest of the dinner is ready.

Ok, this doesn't look all that appetizing in the pan but it really was delicious and oh so healthy.  First I made some quinoa - I buy that black and white version from Trader Joe's.  In the meantime, I soaked some dried cranberries in a mixture that came to mind of tamari, rice vinegar and agave.  The tamari was a little too salty so next time I'd use less or maybe add some orange juice.  I sauteed some fresh, chopped kale that my friend Antoinette dropped off the other day fresh from her garden (she has the greenest thumb of anyone I've ever met).  Then I added the quinoa and the sauce to the sauteed kale.  Antoinette brought me a fresh beet too so I roasted that along with a yam and some carrots at 400 degrees.  I put these veggies in at the same time as the cherry tomatoes but the beet took the most time at almost an hour.

Amalia enjoying dinner
Beth and Erin
After all that healthy stuff how about a delicious tiramisu cake that Erin picked up at Whole Foods.  Joshua and Elisa look pretty happy about it...heck, so do Erin and Amalia!!
Elias relaxing with Oliver and Juma
Erin and her Chewwy

Friday, March 16, 2012

Remember the hat

While on vacation in Hvar Island, Croatia my girlfriend Boni and I came upon a charming, old world, upstairs art gallery/shop where we each splurged on handmade hats. After lunch we boarded our rented catamaran and sailed away to our next island adventure but before we were even squared away, Boni's brand new hat blew overboard and was gone forever. I managed to hold on to mine but felt a little guilty. None the less, we'll have the memories of all the fun we had in the shop trying on all the various hats and finally deciding on our selection.  While at the shop I was captured by the simple beauty of a rustic vase of dried flowers sitting on the old brick windowsill with an artsy "curtain" behind made from circles strung together.
For the Day 18 Beyond Layers challenge, I converted this image to B&W and used Kim's Aurora texture.
Shot taken in gallery/shop on Hvar Island, Croatia - converted to B&W in Photoshop

Beth and Boni modeling those gorgeous hand made hats

George and Boni

Beth wearing her new hat

Beth, Valeta, Vernon, George, Boni and Joe at a cafe on Hvar Island, Croatia

We captained and crewed a catamaran that we rented from Moorings and sailed the Dalmatian coast.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Pearls on postcards

Another image transformed to B&W using some of the techniques learned at Beyond Layers Day 18.   I used a layer mask to let the red of the postage stamp come through.  Added a few other adjustment layers and two layers of KK Evolve texture, one at Soft Light 66% and the other at Multiply 56%
Pearls on postcards by jpbeth

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Presto Chango - From Color to Black and White

On Day 18 of Kim Klassen's Beyond Layers class we learned come B&W techniques including making initial adjustments in Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) which is a Photoshop plug-in...who knew!!!  Once I converted the image to B&W in ACR and made a few exposure and contrast tweaks, I brought it into Photoshop and made some additional changes. Below is the final image, the initial image done in ACR and the original shot that I took at Mareeba Wetlands in Queensland, Australia.

Final Photoshop B&W image of a heron at Mareeba Wetlands - Queensland, Australia

Initial changes made in Adobe Camera Raw (ACR)

My original image of a heron at Marbeeba Wetlands - Queenland, Australia

Friday, March 9, 2012

Creating a dreamy, hazy image

Kim Klassen's Beyond Layers Day 16 challenge was to create a dreamy, hazy image using the new techniques she presented to us in her video.  Here's what I did with a image of an orchid that I recently shot at the Koele Lodge in Lanai, Hawaii.
  • Added lens flare to a blank layer, soft light, 50% gray
  • Added a Levels Adjustment layer and adjusted the output slider 
  • KK texture, "Flouish", Screen, 24%. Used layer mask to remove some of the texture from the orchid.
  • KK texture, "Veil", Soft Light, 38%. Used layer mask to remove some of the texture from the orchid.
  • Two text layers - Engravers MT for the main font and Century Gothic for the name.

My dreamy, hazy image of an orchid

Before Image

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Maj Jongg is Gaining Popularity

Knitting, playing mah jongg...OMG I have become my mother!  But, in retrospect, I guess my mom must have been one happenin' woman.  Mah jongg ( National Mah Jongg League rules) just happens to be one of my very favorite pastimes.  I play twice a week with two different groups and have been doing so for several years now; I've in fact taught most of the women in both of the groups how to play.  Many of the gals have gotten so good that they're already playing in tournaments.  Mah jongg is enjoying a resurgence in popularity and is a strategic, social, addictive and entertaining tile game.  Furthermore it engages several areas of the brain simultaneously and studies have shown that playing mah jongg reduces the risk of ever developing dementia.  For more info about how to play mah jongg, check out Sloperama.

The table is set up for four players.  On the left are two Susans, on the right is Lyn and I'm taking the shot.  All 152 tiles are initially placed face down on the table; each player then builds a wall 18 tiles wide by two tiles high.  Each player takes 13 tiles from the wall into her hand with an extra tile for the east player, then collects and discards tiles in order to build a hand on the annual card. 

 The goal of the game is to get a mah jongg by making one of the hands on the annual rule card.

A mah jongg for Susan using lots of jokers.

Dessert was from what else, my new Power Foods cook book.  This lemon cream was made with silken tofu so it was low in calories and fat but delicious.   It's garnished with fresh blucberries, blackberries and lemon peel.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A Whisper at Uluru

Kim Klassen's Beyond Layers Day 15 challenge was to prompt us with the word "whisper".  Immediately Uluru came to mind, that sacred ground in the Australian outback.  I had the opportunity to visit Uluru (aka Ayers Rock) a few years ago and all I wanted to do while there was to listen to the spirits of the land and speak only in a quiet whisper.  I took this photo at a shallow pool between the rocks.  I enhanced the image with Kim's Textures: Simplicity using Overlay 57% and two layers of Revolution one at Subtract at 46% and the other at Overlay 100%. 

Talk about Eating Healthy!

A few weeks ago my friend Stephanie turned me on to a new cookbook called "Power Foods".  I thought I was about done with cookbooks given that I have a zillion and pretty much just make up most of my 'recipes' these days but I found out otherwise.  This is one awesome cookbook packed with healthy, easy, delicious foods focusing on recipes using the 38 healthiest ingredients on the planet (why they couldn't come up with two more and make it an even 40 is beyond me!). It's the way I like to cook and eat (or at least aspire to most of the time) but this cookbook has given me some new inspiration. Tonight I had my cousin Rochelle over for dinner I made a bunch of recipes from the cookbook.  All were delicious and easy.  My maj girls are coming over tomorrow and will hopefully enjoy the nuts, the dips, the cookies and a few other goodies I still plan to make.  

Sweet potato and edamame hummus with lentil chips and blanched green beans with lemon zest

Watch that knife in your hand cousin Rochelle!

I'm taking the baked nuts and seeds out of the oven

This is one healthy nut mixture packed with almonds, walnuts, flaxseed, sunflower seeds, quinoa, honey and spices - yum, yum.

Ok - this wasn't  a recipe in the cookbook but we roasted some Brussel sprouts in the oven and added a touch of grated parmesan cheese

Roasted wild Alaskan salmon and parsnips with ginger along with the roasted Brussel sprouts

Double dark chocolate and ginger biscotti - rich but not overly sweet.

Ok if you've read this far, you deserve at least one recipe.  Here's the one for this delicious biscotti:

1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
 1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup (3 oz) coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate (at least 70%)
1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
I also added some dried blueberries but the recipe didn't call for it.

1.  Preheat the over to 350.  Line a baking sheet with parchment.  In a medium bowl combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.
2.  In an electric mixer, beat egg and egg yolk and sugar until light and fluffy, beat in the vanilla and oil.
3.  On low, beat in the flour mixture until combined.  Mix in walnuts, chocolate and ginger
4.  With moistened hands, shape the dough into tow longs.  Bake about 25 minutes.  Let cool.
5.  Reduce oven temp to 325.  With a serrated knife, cut the logs on the diagonal.  Bake about 20 minutes flipping halfway through.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Aloha from Lanai

Orange Orchid by jpbeth
KIM KLASSEN'S TEXTURE TUESDAY - Before heading to the Lanai Airport for my trip back to Honolulu and then back to LAX, I had breakfast at the beautiful Four Seasons Koele Lodge followed by a peaceful walk through the gorgeous gardens. The grounds are simply beautiful and there was a huge hot house filled with nothing but orchids in luscious colors.  I combined two different photos of the orange orchid for this image.  I used a layer mask to delete some portions of the second image.   I added two layers of Kim's texture Happy Heart, one at Multiply 80% and the second at Overlay 80%. The font is Callie Hand.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Las Vegas Weekend

Quick turn around overnight in Las Vegas with good friends Susie and Raul.  Each couple flew into Henderson Airport (Raul and Susie in their Comanche) and arrived within 10 minutes of each other.  Took the shuttle to the new M Resort where we hung out the whole time eating, drinking and losing money but had a blast doing it.  Actually I won $2.50 net, yep that $2 dollars and $.50 for this big gambler!

 Joe, aren't you a little old for that Affliction shirt?

 Long Beach from the air.  That green area with all the trees in the dog park where we just walked to/from.

 M Resort

 M Resort lobby

 Susie, Raul, Beth and Joe

M Resort from the air on departure