small rivulets of watercolor danced back and forth as I whimsically attempted to sketch and paint in the backyard swing

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small rivulets of watercolor danced back and forth as I whimsically attempted to sketch and paint in the backyard swing

I had finally sat in the swing enough days and watched the dogs play that I decided I’d try to do a quick and simple sketch and watercolor painting.  I think somehow they know when I try to sketch them because they won’t stay still and I’m not very good at sketching especially dogs from different angles and perspective.  Although sketching and painting in a swing doesn’t make things any easier either.  LOL.

Anyway, I figured I’d use the opportunity to blog about a watercolor field kit I bought and some tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way.  I think i only paid around $15 for the kit and you can find it at Michael’s or Hobby Lobby both of which have weekly coupons for 40% to 50% off.  Here is a link to amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Sakura-XNCW-24N-Assorted-Watercolors-Sketch/dp/B001OVG40E

So here a few tips and tricks.  As you can see a 4×6 index card fits neatly in the case.  What isn’t visible is a small ring in the bottom of the case so you can hold it securely with your finger.  Back when I used to dabble with watercolor more often I always used traditional brushes but a few months ago I discovered watercolor brush pens and luckily the case above comes with one.  It holds the water inside the pen and you squeeze it slightly to wet or clean the brush.  It works pretty well but you’ll still want to hold onto your classical brushes for more options.

As you may notice the mixing tray will fit on the left or right side of the case.  This is a convenient design and it fits in the middle so you can close it inside the case when you’re done.  The water brush comes apart when you’re not using it so it also stores inside the case.  The lighter can be used to strike a flame close to wet paint to dry it quickly so you can close it in your case – just be careful not to burn your paper.

When it comes to drying the brush or cleaning it during painting, you could use a paper towel or cloth but it could be tedious to keep up with.  So while the kit comes with a small sponge on both sides with one visible in the picture, I decided to wear an old cotton sports wrist band also visible in the picture.  It actually works better than the small sponge that’s built in the case and it gives a nice artsy color pattern to an otherwise dull white sports band.  🙂

The silly sketch and painting is of two of my four small dogs.  There is a debris pile in the backyard that I need to clean up but a colony of lizards have claimed it as their home and the dogs love to chase them 24×7.   The clumsily sketched and painted drum in the picture is what I plan on burning the wood debris in.  That is if the wood doesn’t naturally decay first.

I had always thought watercolor painting was too messy to do quickly and I wasn’t familiar with these field kits until I saw a video of someone painting watercolor with one on a public bus.  I then decided I had to get one and try out so I can do more watercolor.  It is really quick and easy to do use watercolor almost anywhere with one of these kits.

One final tip that I’ll share is one I’ve read about but haven’t tried yet so test it at your own risk.  🙂   If you want to swap out any of the individual paint colors that originally arrived in the kit, you can pop out the cell and replace it with another one of the same size.  Also, if you have watercolor paint in a tube and you want to use it in the field kit then you can pour the watercolor tube paint into an empty cell and leave the kit open for a day or two for it to dry out.  Then it should work like any of the other colors since you have to add water to activate them.  Good luck and if you need any tutorials on how to get started or learn about advanced techniques check out videos on YouTube.

 

 

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My somewhat inchoate diet and my new fitbit badge.

My somewhat inchoate diet and my new fitbit badge.

I have type 2 diabetes and though I’ve been able to hold my current weight without gaining, my blood sugar has been slowly creeping upwards so I’ve been ramping up my diet strategy yet again.  I’m probably on version 42 of my diet (and a long ways to go) and I feel like by the time I get to version 100 there will be nothing left I can actually eat except maybe an avocado and celery both of which i want to like but currently find yucky.

Here are a couple of tricks I’ve learned recently to help eat healthier.  In the past, I’ve used these square containers like in the images below for two turkey sandwiches – one for lunch and one for supper.  I can’t consume two sandwiches in one meal and control my blood sugar or weight.  Even though I get pretty hungry throughout the day by just eating one sandwich I’ve learned that I have to get used to being hungry.

Instead of putting the turkey meat on bread, I put it in a salad and fill the sandwich container with salad.  Ingredients I typically use in the salad are lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, sweet onion and green onion, green pepper, two jalapeno slices (finely chopped), broccoli, cauliflower (both of which i cut up fairly small so it’s not big chunks), green or black olives, dill pickle slices, banana pepper rings, and a little bit of shredded cheese.  I put a small amount of salad dressing in a small container and keep it in the cooler with a salad.  I generally put black pepper on it when i prepare it but don’t salt it ahead of time or it’ll turn the lettuce to mush because salt leaches the moisture out of veggies in a short amount of time.   The green olives, banana peppers, and sliced dills from a jar typically have a lot of salt so I find that I don’t have to add more salt with those and those don’t turn the salad to mush.

I also like to experiment with other dry seasonings such as McCormick’s salad supreme or even Cajun spices such as Tony Cachere’s or Zatarain’s sometimes to keep from getting so bored with salads.  If the lettuce is pretty fresh I have been able to get away with preparing the salad in the container the night before but I usually prepare it the morning if I’m going to have it for lunch.  Since it can be a bit time consuming I try to have all the ingredients washed and chopped in containers in the fridge so I just have to combine them in the morning.

There are a lot of other ways to make a salad including using sliced or chopped boiled eggs or other sandwich meats.  Or if you’re worried about processed sandwich meats, I like boiling split chicken breast with seasonings and pulling the meat from the bone and putting it in a container in the fridge.  It can then be used as a topping on a salad, in chicken salad, chicken pasta, chicken chilli, chicken pizza, or home made chicken soup just to name a few.  Boiled chicken if done right can be very tasty and healthier than fried (but if you have fried chicken leftovers you can pull the meat from the bone on it and use it in same recipes i mentioned above).  I’ll post the seasonings and some other tricks I use for boiled chicken in another post.

Cashews in moderation from what I’ve read have a beneficial affect on blood sugar so I’ve been taking those in my lunch.  They can be eat as a snack or put in the salad.  I’ve also been eating a lot of oranges lately so I’m not sure if that’s why I haven’t caught the cold or flu bugs that everyone else keeps getting but I’m sure the vitamin C helps.  The halo brand oranges are easy to peel and they’re pretty tiny so just right for peeling at my office cube without making a mess.

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Salad, cashews, and an orange. Yummi.

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I put pickle slices and green olives in there which takes the place of salt.

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Instead of putting the turkey meat on bread I put it in a salad.

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This is what I’m not supposed to eat. 🙂  This was the first time I bought fresh seafood from Publix and brought it home and cooked.  The shrimp and catfish were on sale half off.  I make the shrimp scampi by drizzling it with olive oil and putting a small amount of butter in it.  Then I add garlic salt and some pepper and then bake or broil it for about 6 minutes.  The corn nuggets are just bad all the way around when it comes to health.  LOL.  This is at least 4 servings maybe more.   

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Yay. This is since January of 2017.  I’m still too heavy to run much so most of this is brisk walk.

I’ve experimented with a lot of containers for salads to take them to work and eat at lunch but the square plastic container above seems to work pretty good so far.  I’ve also thought about glass mason jars.  With the mason jars you put salad dressing on the bottom and then when you’re ready to eat it just pour it into a bowl.  You can find the book below on Amazon and other places.

Image result for 150 best meals in a mason jar book

Well good luck if you are trying to eat healthier and/or lose weight.  It’s a constant struggle for me but I’ve lost around 40lbs with many more to go but I’m getting there slowly but surely.  🙂

 

Trying out an old camera and my recent Goodwill Haul

Trying out an old camera and my recent Goodwill Haul

Quite a few years back my wife and I bought this Cannon Power shot A495.  It’s never worked very well but I decided to get it out and try it again and snap a few pics of a recent Goodwill thrift store trip.  Goodwill prices are a little higher than they used to be but I still shop there often because the money goes to a great cause and overall the prices are still awesome.  I mean you never know what you’re going to find mixed with good prices and helping out others so how cool is that.  The first pic was taken with my older on it’s last leg iPod touch.

 

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Little blue guy approves of the blue camera but the pig just wanted to be the center of attention.

 

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The cool looking yellow bowl was 99 cents.  I figured it would make a good soup or cereal bowl after an industrial strength cleaning.

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The pink globe was 2.99 and the yellow and blue vases were 99 cents each.  All the toys came in a plastic bag for 2.99.

So came out to 8.95 so not bad for all the stuff.  Now I just got to go out in my yard and find some flowers to put in the vases – I think some roses would work well.  🙂

 

 

 

“What a distressing contrast there is between the radiant intelligence of the child and the feeble mentality of the average adult.”

“What a distressing contrast there is between the radiant intelligence of the child and the feeble mentality of the average adult.” – Sigmund Freud

Child wearing red sleeves creates chalk art on sidewalk

While I’m not a big fan of Freud, I think he may have been on to something here.  Today we give children medications to calm them down and make them tiny sleepy minded zombies and are constantly shushing them when their wonderful little minds race and they want to share their uncontainable but fun thoughts with us or worse yet they are told by adults to shut-up or stop asking so many questions.  Maybe it’s a conspiracy by some adults to bring their children’s intelligence down to the level of the adults.

Personally I’ve always thought we should encourage children to think on their own and not be afraid to ask questions.  Maybe that way they can grow up to be above average adults.  🙂