Thursday, May 31, 2012

Are we there yet?

Are we there yet? by jpbeth

Are we there yet?, a photo by jpbeth on Flickr.
Day 39 in Beyond Layers and it is a week of words. Today's prompt in the word INTENTION. I saw this quote with the word INTENT and thought it was beautiful. It reminds me that it's not the destination, but the journey.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

To Life

To Life by jpbeth
Day 38 in Kim Klassen's Beyond Layers Class and the assignment is to use the word 'LIFE' as an inspiration.

I just got back from a trip to South Carolina where I attended the wedding of my very dear and long time friend Phyllis whom I've known since the 9th grade. She met her true love Dave at Miami University in Ohio in the 70's and the plan was for the two of them to get married. But circumstances got in the way and it didn't happen. Life went on and they both married others and raised their respective families. A few years ago they had the opportunity to reunite and it came to be that their love for each other had never died.

It was wonderful to attend the wedding and experience their complete joy and true love even at 60 years old. I wish them Mazel Tov and a long, healthy and happy life together. L'Chaim - to LIFE.

Click HERE to see the movie I made of the weekend wedding festivities.

An Easy Peasy Summer Meal

OK, it's not yet summer but seems like the Memorial Day holiday kicked it off.  And last night's evening in southern california was warm and beautiful which is rare even on a real summer's night.  So fire up that grill and get cooking an easy peasy impromptu summer meal.

Appetizer of Manchego cheese and those yummy rosemary bite crackers from Trader Joes.  TJ's J. Lohr Chardonnay was a good accompaniment.  

To make it easy, I bought a package of 4 shucked ears of corn from Trader Joes.  I microwaved them, per the instructions on the package, but finished them off on the grill.  We cut up the vegetables, consisting of zucchini, summer squash and red/yellow peppers, lengthwise and marinated them with some olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper.  I bought the thin sliced chicken breasts from Trader Joes (yes, I love TJ's) and marinated them for just 15 minutes in some soy sauce, rice vinegar, ginger and a bit of oil.  The sliced veggies and microwaved corn went on the grill first and then about 15 minutes later added the chicken which only needed about 12 minutes on the grill.  

Romaine and other lettuce leaves with shaved parmesan cheese to which we added the sliced chicken, cut up roasted vegetables, roasted corn cut off of the cob and toasted pine nuts.  A bit of olive oil and a good vinegar, salt and pepper and voila!

 This was so darn delicious and so easy.  Mix:  sliced watermelon, thinly sliced Bermuda onion, crushed mint, a good feta cheese (buy the one in water), pepper, and rice or champagne vinegar.

No picture but for dessert we had Trader Joe's frozen plain tart yogurt topped with:  grilled fresh peaches, a drizzle of maple syrup, and a topping made in the food processor of:  pecans, crystalized ginger, whole coriander seeds, a drop of cayenne pepper and cinnamon.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Chocolate Meringue Cookies

My friend Stephanie came over tonight to share dinner and catch up on episodes of Mad Men which I record, watch and save for her to watch.  She brought over the best Thai food from a place called Thai Sky on Pacific Ave. in Long Beach of red curry with chicken, pad-see-ew with beef and brown rice...oh so yummy.  And after almost two bottles of white wine, I decided to bake while she's still catching up on the shows.  I got this recipe from my mom years ago and these are just the best cookies ever.  I doctored them up with crystalized ginger and a 1/3 of a premium chocolate bar from Trader Joe's.  I almost added fresh rosemary but it wasn't so fresh any more.  

Here's the basic recipe but doctor it up as you please.

Chocolate Meringue Cookies
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 level tsp corn or potato starch
2 egg whites, room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup pecans toasted and chopped (I used walnuts)
1/2 chocolate chips (I used 1/3 of a premium chocolate bar)
1/8 tsp salt

Line a large baking sheet with parchment or foil.  Sift 3/4 cup of the powdered sugar, cocoa, starch, salt.  With electric mixer beat the egg whites until foamy, add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and flavoring.  Beat until soft peaks form.  Add cocoa mixture until blended.  Stir in nuts and chocolate chips.  Let stand 30 minutes (I refrigerated it for 15 minutes).  With tablespoon, drop mixture on to prepared cookie sheet.  Bake 325 degrees for minutes.  Remove from rack and cool 10 minutes.


 Chocolate Meringue Cookies with a glass of almond milk.

Yummy Chocolate Meringue Cookies

 Stephanie enjoying a fresh baked cookie.

Wine, milk and cookies.  What's wrong with this combo....absolutely nothing! 

Enjoying Don Draper.

Making an Upcycled Nuno Felted Shawl

I feel like I'm helping to do my part for our planet when I can use recycled materials and take something old and repurpose it.  In the case of this nuno felted shawl, I started with a gauzy, oversized blouse that my girlfriend was throwing away.  Oh no you don't girl...that blouse has way too many possibilities!  And even though it had a few snags and small holes from being tenderly worn over the years, it's nothing that a little wool roving can't hide.  So I cut the blouse to form a large piece of fabric for the main portion of the shawl.  From my stash, I pulled out several types of white silk along with some old tee-shirts that I had received when signing up for the 5K races that Joe and I used to do.  My running days are over but the tee shirts abound.  Actually I was never much into running anyway and always preferred a clipped walk to a run.  I can walk for miles and miles but felt like I'd croak if I had to take one more stride after I crossed that finish line.  But I HERE to see how to cut the tee shrts into stretchy circular strips.  The wool roving I use is white superfine merino which felts like a dream.  

After I got all my materials together, that being the blouse, the various silks, the tee-shirts and the roving, I dyed them using acid dyes and although acid dyes are supposed to be used for dying protein fibers like wool and silk, I also used it to dye the cotton tee-shirts.  So even though the cotton didn't come out with the vibrancy of the silk and wool, I felt the muted colors would be a nice compliment to the other dyed fabrics.  Click HERE to see my dying instructions. 

I laid down towels and bubble wrap on my big table and spread out the blouse fabric as my base fabric.  I was ready to get started now that my roving and fabric had dried naturally for a day or two.  I create organically and add fabric and wool as the design dictates; I have a rough idea of what I want it to be but I literally let the piece take on a life of it's own. It's so exciting to see how it will evolve and what it wants me to add or not - color, texture, shape, size and negative space all play an importance in the design. Once the design is complete,  I go through the felting process to bind the wool to the fabric and finish it off by slamming it to shrink the wool (I love that part of the process!).  I am always surprised and mezmerized by the magic that happens when the wool and the silk marry and create their own beautiful texture.

And wearing these nuno felted garments is so fun.  Again their organic nature comes to life whether you wear it upside down, right side up, inside out, sideways, tied, untied - whatever suits you, your mood or the outfit you're enhancing.  The drape is unparalleled and the silk and wool is a great warm weather combo.  Plus what an inspiring statement you make when you wear art, i.e wearable art!

If you are interested in learning more about nuno felting or purchasing a shawl from me, click HERE.  If you're interested in taking a class from me in Los Angeles, click HERE.  Thanks for your interest and hope to see you.
Finished upcycled nuno felted shawl

My acid dyed fabrics and wool roving

Design layout in progress

During the felting process

Below are just some of the ways to wear the shawl.  Right side out (which ever side you consider the right side), inside out, closure in the front, closure on the side, upside get the picture!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Happy Birthday Class of 1970

Saying hi and happy birthday to my high school friends from the class of '70 who, along with moi, turn the big six O this year.  Since we're all celebrating on different days throughout the year I thought, since next week is June 1st and almost the half way point of the year, that this was a good time to wish all of us a good ol' fashioned happy birthday.  Plus on June 1st, I'll turn 59 1/2 which is the magic age when your financial status changes.  It's odd that it's 59 1/2 and not 59 or 60 but none the less, it is an important milestone when it comes to finances.  When you reach 59 1/2 there is no longer a 10% penalty when you withdraw money from a tax deferred plan.  Not that I'm ready to make any withdrawals but nice to know that we've reached the age that we're penalty free!

Happy Birthday Friends.

I processed this in Photoshop with several adjustment layers, filters and textures.  Using the magic wand, I selected the background on the image layer and then added it as a layer mask on one of the texture layers.  I then added a pattern and colorized it.  The text is a free font called The King and Queen.

This is the image Straight out of the camera (SOOC).

Digital Frames

I came across a site where you can download these darling frames for free.  Lots of fun and so many possibilities especially if you are into digital scrap booking.  Click HERE to get these free frames and more.  I opened the frames in Photoshop and then added my own pics each on their own layer.  I made the dog foot prints by using the custom shape tool which is one of the tools listed with the rectangle tools.  I then added patterns and colors to the the foot prints. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Pattern Play

In Day 25 of Kim Klassen's Beyond Layers class, Kim encouraged us to play with patterns.  A pattern is an image that's repeated or tiled when you use it to fill a layer or a selection.  You install patterns in Photoshop in a similar method to loading brushes or actions.  You can find lots of free Photoshop patterns on line at

Here's my enhanced Photoshop image -  using a pattern, textures and various adjustment layers.


Monday, May 14, 2012

Bakelite mah jongg tile focal

I had so much fun with my practice mah jongg tile necklaces that I ordered some cool, vintage Bakelite tiles from a gal named Bethany from Frankenbeads whom I found on Etsy. We really bonded given that we are both Beth's and both from Cleveland, Ohio.  She didn't know that much about the game of mah jongg so I helped her with the descriptions and to properly name the three suits - Bams, Cracks and Dots.  She in turn did me right on the sale of the tiles.  The tile in the picture below is a Flower and although it has the #1 on it, it is still just a plain old flower with the number being insignificant.

This is a necklace I made with the Bakelite mah jongg tile as one of the focal beads.  I also used a circular semiprecious green jade bead, a green Buddha, and a variegated glass bead as focals.  Hanging from the maj tile are three pieces of sterling chain.  Coral branches hang from the chain as well as a vintage green glass bead.  The necklace closes on the side with a handmade sterling wrapped hook which loops through an old Asian coin.  Semiprecious and some glass beads are all wire wrapped on sterling. 

If you are interested in purchasing this necklace or a similar one, please click HERE to contact me.  Thanks for taking a look and thanks for your support and comments which are so much appreciated.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Flowers in a Jar

This is the image SOOC.  I took this shot of a pretty jar of flowers that was on the counter at Buttonwood Farms Winery in the Santa Ynez Valley where we went wine tasting this past weekend.  

This is my Photoshop processed image of the jar of flowers.  I used several filters, adjustment layers, masks and four layers of two different textures, including one with the word GRATITUDE that I got free from Pixel Dust Photo Art.

Weekend Wine Tasting

We planned a weekend getaway to the Santa Ynez Valley Wine Country which is nestled in the heart of Santa Barbara County's legendary vineyards.  Only a 45 minute flight from Long Beach to the quiet Santa Ynez airport in Joe's trusty Bonanza.  We visited several wineries in the area including Roblar, Buttonwood, Blackjack, Gainy and Qupe.  We explored the charming town of Los Olivos and the quaint Danish Village of Solvang where we had an outstanding dinner at Root 246 and stayed the night at the Hadsten House.  

It's breathtaking places like this that remind me of why I live in California despite the high taxes, smog and congestion.  Can't wait to go back again.

Joe enjoying one of the MANY tastings

Me doing the same as Joe

We were surrounded by gorgeous vineyards

Enjoyed the outdoor setting at Buttonwood and want to come back this summer for homemade peach pie and peach ice cream.

The ever popular Blackjack Winery put itself on the map after Sideways was filmed there.  We bought a case of a delicious 2006 Syrah called Double Down.

Wine, wine, wine and more wine.

Lunch at the Los Olivos Cafe of a delicious thin crust pizza and caesar salad and of course more wine.

Small to talking to this guy (Mark Huggs and son Finn)  next to me and found out that he lives in Santa Barbara but is the owner of 24th St. Cafe in Bakersfield which Joe frequents.  No wonder they thought each other looked familiar. 

Mother's Day at Roblar Winery.  Not crowded yet since it just opened.

Back in Long Beach and unloading the wine.

Wine to car and then home.  What's better than a weekend of wine tasting!!?