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Pretty Little Birds in Watercolor

Here is something to bring some cheer to your walls all year round. This is a set of four watercolor paintings that illustrate different birds in various settings. Each painting is 5 in x 4.5 in.

Please scroll down for a detailed picture and description of each bird.

A yellow warbler on a wisteria branch! Spring is here and the days are beginning to get longer.

A bluebird sitting on a branch of a golden chain tree. This takes me back to summer!! Anyone else missing summer already?

A little robin perched on a pine branch. She is a busy bee these days with the days getting shorter and cooler!

A cardinal on a juniper branch! Here in Texas even though I see these birds year round I somehow attach them to winter most! I wonder if it’s their color that complements the festive season or does that brilliant redness brighten up the shorter days of winter??❤️

You can buy these little beauties in a set from my etsy shop Artsy gals!

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The Whimsical Forest

Deep in the forest flows a babbling stream lined with tall blue grass and scarlet red mushrooms. Dragonflies dance in the sunlight streaming through the tall foliage. There’s a cool breeze blowing. In between an occasional croak, and the warbler’s notes lies a soft hush.

Hours go by in this quiet little place. As sunlight begins to retrace its steps, the dragonflies begin to change little by little. One rests on a rock…..

Welcome to the land of whimsical!

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Redbubble

Some time ago my daughter and I opened a shop called Artsygals on Redbubble. For those of you who don’t know Redbubble is an online market that sells print-on-demand products based on the artist’s designs. It is a good starting point for any artist who wants to share their work with the world as well as make some money out of that (although that might take some time)!

So I invite you to visit our shop and have a look at some of our designs and artwork on a variety of products….

Cushion cover
Tote bag

The above two are examples of my floral watercolor art on products. The following two cacti designs are examples of my daughter’s artwork on products. She likes to work with watercolor, gouache, and acrylics mostly while I like to work with watercolors mostly.

I phone case
Water bottle.

Do stop by our shop and have a look at our work. Thank you!!!

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Mints, Anyone?

I love the flavor and fragrance of mint. To me Mint spells “fresh”, “clean”, “summer”. I mostly use mint in its herb form as a garnish or as a spicy condiment but it is also a blessing for an upset tummy just as well. I also keep a mixture of peppermint, eucalyptus and lemongrass essential oils for the occasional aches and pains. This also works as a great pick-me-up to fight the blahs.

Coming back to the mint ‘herb’, the very first thing I do is to wash the herbs in cold water and drain off any excess water. Next I snip off any leaves that are spoiled. After this I select one good length for all the stems and remove any lower end leaves if needed (I always end up with a good number of them) and then cut the stems so that they are all almost of the same length.

So first with the leaves…

I keep some for the recipes I need right away. I spread the remaining leaves on a paper towel on the kitchen counter top for 1-2 days keeping them covered with another towel especially at night. After a day they dry up and shrivel in size but retain their fragrance. I usually give them another day to dry completely as any moisture left in them might cause spoilage. Next I store them in a clean bottle or jar and there you have it – your dry mint herb.

How do I use these?

I use them in pasta sauce or while cooking ethnic Indian food by crushing them and sprinkling over the dish mostly in the end to jazz up the overall flavor! Sometimes I also use a couple of leaves in my morning tea.

Now we are left with mint leaves on stem. What should I do with them?

I use them in one of two ways. I put some of them in a small glass jar filled with just enough water to submerge the ends of the stems and leave them as such in the fridge (a good way to get rid of the odor)! This way anytime I need fresh garnish it’s there. The other option is to make a green ‘Condiment’ or ‘chutney’.

The Recipes

Here are the 2 recipes of Mint Chutney that best accompany Indian snacks and meals. But don’t just stop there! Try them with potato fries and mozzarella sticks also! They can be stored in a clean jar for 1-2 days in the refrigerator. I have kept Mint Cilantro Chutney frozen for a few weeks. It becomes darker in color but retains its flavor (and that’s what matters, right?) If frozen, it needs to be thawed before use. I have not tried freezing Sesame Mint Chutney however. Maybe I’ll try it sometime.

RECIPE 1 – Quick Sesame Mint Chutney

Ingredients

Sesame seeds – 3 Tbsp roasted lightly

Mint leaves – 1/4 cup

Ginger – 1/2 Tbsp chopped

Green chillies – as per taste

Salt – as per taste

Lemon juice as per taste

Method

Blend all the ingredients together. You may have to add some water if the mixture is too thick. You can also add more or less leaves as per your desired taste. Add some lemon juice at the end!

RECIPE 2 Easy Mint Cilantro Chutney

Ingredients

Mint leaves – 1 cup

Cilantro leaves – 1 cup

Green chillies – as per taste

Ginger – 1/2 Tbsp chopped

Tomato – 1/2 cup chopped

Salt – as per taste

Lemon juice – as per taste

Method

Blend all the ingredients. Add a little water if the mixture is too thick but don’t let it become too runny. Add the lemon juice in the end.

So there you have – some interesting uses for mint leaves! If you have any other ideas or tips please share. I would love to hear from you.

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Update on Green Living

I am proud to say that I have avoided bringing at least 150 plastic bags into my home in the last 2 months! And I feel good about it. If you look at my previous post https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/happytimebreak.wordpress.com/1170 I talked about the steps I’d been taking to try to live a greener lifestyle despite the pandemic. I just want to share some updates on this topic.

So first of all I was very pleased with the set of 4 cotton bags (Red Earth brand) I’d ordered from Amazon. These are sturdy bags with at least six side pockets on the inside which is very handy while loading bottles or jars. They did shrink a little after machine wash (I do wash them in quick wash setting after every grocery trip in cold water and then air dry them).

But soon I realized they were not enough so I ordered a set of 5 cotton canvas bags as well as a set of 10 cotton mesh bags. The latter came in large, medium and small sizes and I use them for buying produce. I wash the canvas bags in machine but hand wash the mesh ones. And yes ALL of them did shrink as they are made of 100% cotton but they are still roomy enough for the average grocery shopping trip.

Loading grocery in the cotton bags followed by unloading, washing, drying, and folding them may seem like a tedious process but in the end it’s all worth it especially when I look back on the number of plastic bags that I avoided bringing into my home and sending them to the recycling center!

Yes often we kid ourselves into thinking that we’ve done a great job at recycling but not every piece of plastic gets recycled and if they do, some of them are turned into products that may not be able to be recycled further! So it just makes sense to “avoid” getting plastic and non recyclable things into our homes in the first place!

Hope this post inspires anyone out there who is trying to get started on living sustainably. More in a future post!

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Growth as an artist

The inspiration to paint this came from an earlier and similar watercolor I’d done last year around the same time. So I decided to redo the older one with a fresh perspective! (If you scroll down all the way you’ll find it).

So here it is – a beautiful morning, the sun slowly rising behind the mountains, its rays lighting up the top of the mountains and the lavender fields!

And here’s the older version from last year. Sometimes I think it is a good exercise to redo an older piece of art or take inspiration from one. After completing the painting I could assess how much I had grown as an artist.

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Floral Illustrations in Pen

Here are two illustrations I drew using Micron pens in 01 and 05. I had never attempted this before so I was quite nervous when I took up the draw-with-me challenge on Instagram.

The first one is an illustration of Hydrangeas something I love to watercolor. It was a little tedious drawing so many little flowers. But I was happy how it turned out!

And this is an illustration of Anemone. I had never painted this before so had to take inspiration from photographs. I actually fell in love with this flower! I am looking forward to paint them in watercolors soon.

What I discovered was watercoloring and illustrating with pen were two very different things – night and day – more or less. When I watercolor I allow myself to glide into a dream – really! I let my paintbrush flow with a mind of its own. It is almost like a dance. But when I draw (with a pen), it is a different story. I have to be very focused (no dreaming please)! A lot of detailing is involved in the process. At least this is what I experienced while illustrating these flowers.

In the end I loved the result and would like to create more floral illustrations using pen!

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Sweet spot on Lake Tahoe

The other day I was browsing through some pictures from a vacation when I came across a few from Baldwin Beach, a quiet little beach on Lake Tahoe. There was this picturesque spot a little away from the beach and just before hitting the road. It seemed like a mini lake with ducks gently paddling away in the blue waters laced with tall grass waving in the summer breeze.

I just had to relive the moment, this time with watercolors!

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Yosemite memories

A watercolor painting of Yosemite inspired by a photograph!

Two summers ago I visited Yosemite National Park. Memories of standing at the base of El Capitan, a granite monolith over 7,000 feet tall and listening to the thunder of Yosemite Falls made me feel like a grain of sand or maybe an ant! I remember the grueling climb to the top of Vernal Falls and back to the base where the peaceful Merced flowed. Every minute spent there – in the meadows under the sun or near the roaring waterfalls – was filled with awe and admiration for the majestic beauty of nature. It’s impossible to come out of that experience the same!

Yosemite
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Mini Landscapes

Here’s a collage of a few mini landscapes I’d been working on during the month of June. Whenever I felt inspired by a picture or memory, I would loosely paint a version of that. Sometimes I painted something out of my imagination!

This one was inspired by the memory of the warm waters of Key West, Florida.

I think I was thinking of the sun just about to rise and the soft rays bringing things to life….

The majestic El Capitan, Yosemite National Park, California of course!

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Blueberries

It was a cloudy day and I was looking around for something to inspire me to paint. I peeked into the refrigerator and found some left over blueberries. I took a cup and carelessly dropped the blueberries into it letting some scatter around it and voila! this turned into a perfect piece of inspiration.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

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Comfort food

Thought I should do something different for breakfast so instead of the usual oats I decided to prepare some cream of rice that I had bought last year for a dessert recipe I had seen on youtube. And I am so glad I did because it tasted absolutely heavenly! It turned out to be an easy recipe too. I am happy to say it is now a part of my list of comfort foods.

Cream of rice is gluten free as well as fat and cholesterol free. It is a good source of minerals like iron, manganese and selenium and vitamin Bs like thiamine and niacin. What’s more it is also easily digestible.

Ingredients

Milk – 1 1/2 cups

Cream of rice – 2 tbsp mixed with a little water

Almonds – chopped 1 1/2 tbsp

Walnuts – chopped 1 tbsp

Raisins – 1 tbsp

Cardamom powder – pinch

Any kind of sweetener – as per taste

Method

  1. Heat the milk on medium and let it come to a simmer.
  2. Add the rice and water mixture to the milk and stir. As the entire mixture starts thickening, turn off the heat and add the rest of the ingredients reserving 1/2 tbsp of almonds for garnish.
  3. If the mixture becomes too thick add a little more milk to thin it.

Note – Instead of cardamom you may add 1/4 tsp of vanilla.

Enjoy

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Living a Greener Life

Ever since the pandemic started I have become startled at the ‘waste’ being generated. I am also shocked at how much we ‘need’ to survive. Every time I shop whether in person or online I am appalled at the quantity of plastic, metal and paper that makes its way into my home and sadly some of this is not even recyclable. To make things more difficult the local grocery store has discontinued its bulk food which just means more plastic packages!

The problem with plastic especially is as I learned that only a small percentage of gets recycled while the rest makes its way into the landfills where, by the way, it can not biodegrade, so it just sits there. Just imagine that!

So here are a few steps I have been taking in order to tackle this problem.

  1. Cotton Bags First of all I bought a couple of bags made of 100% pure cotton. I machine wash them after every shopping trip and they are good to go!
  2. Substituting Paper Towels for Cotton As much as possible I have replaced the use of kitchen paper towels with cotton towels – ones you can machine wash and reuse.
  3. Glass Jars I try to buy food such as pasta sauce and condiments that come in glass jars as they are easier to reuse or recycle. After the contents are emptied, I like to look for creative ways to use the pretty glass jars. For example, I have one for holding all the paintbrushes.
  4. Reusable Bottles I have replaced the bottled water with a stainless steel water bottle. Recently I also bought a pack of reusable straws that come in pretty colors!
  5. Homemade Skin Care Skin care products in plastic containers are another source of unwanted pollution. I use a homemade facial oil made with essential oils and store it in an amber glass bottle. https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/happytimebreak.wordpress.com/126 However I cannot replace every skin care product. So I do use some of them products but with a mindful approach.
  6. Cloth Masks During quarantine I also decided to make the switch to a more sustainable version of protection – cloth masks made of 100% cotton that are totally washable and reusable.

Everyday I am learning about sustainable options and trying to incorporate them into my life. It gives me the deepest satisfaction to know I am making a difference on this planet even if it is miniscule.

If you have more ideas about how to make sustainable choices please leave your comments. I will love to hear from you.

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle as much as possible.

My Etsy shop

I recently opened a shop called Designsbyartsygals on Etsy with my daughter!

I mostly use watercolor and love to paint flowers especially poppies. I can always feel the summer breeze when I paint poppies. I also love peonies – there’s just something about the arrangement of their petals and their overall shape that makes them so beautiful.

I also love painting landscapes mostly simplistic. Here’s one I did from a memory of a visit to South Beach, Miami. I was blown away by the warm blue green waters and the vast expanse of the golden beach.

Here are two more mini landscapes I did in watercolor. You will find them all in my shop!

And here are some of my daughter’s artwork you will find in my etsy shop. They have been done in acrylic. The left one is called Minimalistic Abstract Art’ and the right one is called Glittering Ocean Waves.

Please do stop by our shop and have a look at our art. Many thanks:)))