Random thoughts and bits of life of a coffee loving artist

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

July Fair Trade show bookmarks in progress

Here I sit at 12:27 in the morning whining over the fact that I forgot to pick up some more coffee creamer so I decided that I should keep folks updated on one of the projects that I have going on. After a couple of times of providing work to a few shows, it would seem that I am one of the artists for a Sacramento based Human Trafficking Awareness group called the Sacramento Rescue & Restore Victims of Human Trafficking. Having been asked to participate again and provide work for a show in July which is to bring attention to fair trade, I ended up wracking my brain for a good while trying to figure out what the hell to do. Of course it didn't help that I was trying to come up with something after having done a piece for my entry into this year's KVIE Art Auction.

After staring at a blank piece of paper for nearly a week, I finally made my decision and started working on the rough draft designs for a set of bookmarks which can be purchased at the show. The designs are based on previous shows we have had already or dealing with one of the subject matters which we try to bring attention to. Final designs will be done in full color.
From left to right:
Birdcaged Lotus - based off of the child prostitution awareness show
Spring Child - based off of child labor awareness
Cups of Coffee - based off of the coffee and chocolate show
Paper Crane - awareness to those who were lost

I'll be posting the final result once I'm done with the finalized designs and such along with all of the show information if anyone is interested in going to the show. 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

SotS Exclusives: Bookmark set 1

From left to right: Origami Koi, Phoenix, White Tara

After a bit of fighting with the designs and getting them approved with one of the owners of the shop, I wanted to share the first batch of bookmarks that I've made exclusively for Sunlight of the Spirit Book and Gift shop which is located at 2314 J street in midtown Sacramento. As I had explained to my Facebook followers, unlike the bookmarks that I make to sell personally, designs that I do exclusively for SotS (which is what I call Sunlight of the Spirit for short) will have no pre-order option in order to be respectful to the shop and to help support their efforts. SotS aims to aid people who are recovering or those who may have someone close who is recovering from chemical addiction or who are struggling with poverty. Go ahead and check out their website for more information if you're interested in learning more about them and the services they provide for the local community. Any products that I end up making for SotS, I'll be making sure to post about them so that folks know what to look for.

Finalized designs
Materials Used: Bristol board, Prismacolor Markers, Copic Markers, Micron Pens, white gel pen

Progress of the designs from rough draft to finalized design

Friday, May 25, 2012

Coffee Review: Tchibo Gold Selection Ground Coffee

I recently received this from my dad who thought that I would like to try it out. It is Tchibo Gold Selection ground coffee which can be found The German Deli which is located off of Auburn Blvd. in Sacramento. At $6.99 for an  8.8oz (250g) vacuum packed container of ground coffee, I was a little surprised by the price compared to the size but had to remind myself that it was an import. As I worked on opening the packaging, being sure that I was careful not to send ground coffee flying through the air, I have come to the conclusion that I am REALLY hating how companies use the vacuum packaging process. I am fine with them using it to keep the coffee fresh but when there is no way of to reseal it so I have to stick it into a ziploc bag, I think that it will be a bit of a turn off for coffee drinkers who want to splurge on a high quality coffee but have no way or resealing it.

Pushing aside my dislike for the packaging, I was a bit curious when I discovered that the coffee appeared to be a fine ground. A little bit odd since the packaging only lists it as a ground coffee but doesn't have what kind of roast it is. Giving a shrug, I went about getting myself a cup. My confusion over this dark richly aromatic brew in my cup increases when I take a drink. The ground is more for an espresso yet the flavor has the qualities of a dark roast where it's not as bitter as an espresso but has the fruity quality of a dark Columbian. It does however seem to cause the same buzz as an espresso so this is really good for those who need a kick start in the morning or needing to do some late night work.

Doing a bit of information hunting, the left side of the package let's the buyer know that the product is from Hamburg, Germany. Rather interesting. At first I missed the company's web address due to the extremely tiny print so I was looking up Tchibo Coffee and discover that it brought me to a website with that title all in (simplified Han) Chinese. Not exactly what I was looking for so I had to take a careful second look to find that the Tchibo corporate website is actually Tchibo.com. After getting the website translated from German to English, I really couldn't see if they sold any of their products from their website. Poking around a bit, I did discover that there is a website called GermanDeli.com that has this particular coffee for $5.99. Yes it is a dollar less but there is a huge problem with this website which is that if you only want that, it will not allow you to go to the check out with it. What do I mean? You click 'Add to cart' and go to the next step which shows you what is in your cart. Click on 'Checkout' and you will get a message at the top of the page stating 'Our minimum order is $25.00' which means that you will need to go back and continue shopping to get your shopping cart total $25 or higher. Alright so hypothetically you want 5 orders of Tchibo Gold Select (totaling $29.95), you go to the checkout section which shows you that there is no taxes and gives you the options of ground shipping or 1 to 3 day air shipping but it does not allow you the chance to see what total including the shipping. What does this mean for those not too familiar with online ordering? It means that once you fill your information in the various windows, make your choice on the shipping and make your payment, you will not know the final total cost until after you've hit the approval button. Trying to figure out where the company would be shipping out from, I went to the main page and scrolled down to discover the following:

Dear Customer, Our site requires a minimum $25 purchase (can be a mix of products). During "checkout" our site provides an estimate of your shipping charges. This shipping estimate is available before payment is required. If the actual shipping costs are lower than the estimate we will charge your card the lower amount. We ship from our Texas warehouse to all 50 states in the USA, to our Troops, to Puerto Rico, and to Canada.
© 2012 GermanDeli. All rights reserved. | Toll Free in the USA Phone 877-GERMANY or 817-410-9955

So for those who may be interested in this coffee, if you're a fan of a dark roast this might be a treat for you that you may want to splurge on. As far as where to pick it up, I would suggest The German Deli located at 5859 Auburn Blvd.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Coffee Review: Karma Cafe

Recently during a day trip with my boyfriend up to the Historic District of Folsom, we had decided to walk into Karma Cafe on Sutter Street for a cup of coffee and a chance to unwind a bit. Walking into to the small cafe that we have passed so many times before, I felt instantly at home with the relaxing atmosphere and eclectic decor. I decided to order just a cup of coffee because even when two different establishments use the same brand, the flavor can be a little different depending on how it's prepared. What's nice is that the coffee only cost $2. Settling in to one of the soft plush chairs, I waited in anticipation for my order hoping that it at least was in a decent size. What comes to me was a rather large steaming mug of coffee. The size of the mug was surprising to me was it was just the massive size of it.

Letting it cool a bit so that I wouldn't burn my tongue (something I had to force myself to remember to do), I enjoyed the aroma of the brew. Sipping and chatting with my boyfriend, I couldn't help but make the comment that the flavor reminded me of something we had already sampled elsewhere but a bit smoother and less bitter of it. Thinking over the various coffee reviews I had already done as I handed the mug over to him to let him try it, his words ended up occurring at the same time the little secretary in my mind found what I was seeking out.

"It kind of tastes like that one drink you ordered over at Chocolate Fish."

He was right. It did have the dark richness similar to the Macchiato I spoke about in my Coffee Review: Chocolate Fish Coffee entry. That just made me confused because that is espresso but I was drinking coffee. My confusion grew even more as we tried to figure out what kind of coffee the cafe was using. It did taste as if it was a Columbian based brew but I couldn't be sure. Finally giving up, I politely spoke with one of the waitresses to discover they use Trader Joe's Dark Roast. Color me surprised on that discovery since I have never been one for a dark roast ground coffee but the way they brewed it, I found myself actually enjoying the deep richness of it and the slightly fruity hints it has. I have to say that I was glad that we decided to come inside instead of just passing by this small spot again.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A decision made

A few weeks ago I had posted on my Facebook account that I wanted to do a piece to put into this year's KVIE art auction but I had no idea what to do. I did know that I didn't want to do classic cars due to the fact the last 2 years I had submitted them and wasn't too thrilled with the idea of doing flowers or another koi. I ended up with a few suggestions but one that struck me was given by a good friend of mine who suggested that I could do a peacock. Admittedly I had been avoiding any paintings with peacocks because dear god the amount of detail just in the feathers but for some reason something in my brain went "Could be fun". I have no idea what made me decide that I would go ahead and go with it. Of course with how I do things, I HAD to add some more details [insert facepalm here]. Well after 4 or more hours (really lost track of time) I was able to get the line art done for the piece. Oh and did I mention I probably only have about a week and a half to work on it so that I have it done, matted and framed before the entry due date because of my current work schedule. God I'm probably going to be drinking so much coffee while working on this.

Here are the pictures of my accepted entries over the past 4 years and what I'm currently working on just so that you have an idea of how my style has evolved over the years. It seems that I become more and more detail oriented over time. It's no wonder I work nearly strictly with size 0 and 000 paintbrushes.

2012 Sultan's Prize (lines) - Here's the lines for the painting I'm about to work on. It's 11x14 inches and will be full color. 

2011 Patriotic Soul - 1940s Cadillac  (11x14 inches) 

2010 Making Memories - 1962 VW bus (11x14 inches) 

2009 Contrast - Based from a photo I had taken earlier in the year (11x14 inches)

2008 Quiet Beauty - (11x14 inches) 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Coffee Review: Hawaiian Isles Kona Chocolate Macadamia Nut

Bought at the same time I got Johnsons Irel Pure Ground Coffee over at Cost Plus: World Market, I thought why not try something that had some added flavors to it. At $9.49 for a 10oz (283g) bag, cost wise it's in the price range I've seen most bags of ground coffee this size. What's nice is that each bag comes with it's own little clip to keep it closed once you've opened it. Of course the first challenge is to open the container without sending ground coffee everywhere. After a bit of a struggle, I was able to open it. Actually it was more form a small hole near the top of the bag to use to pour the coffee. Not exactly the best start to my venture but I was rewarded by the sweet scent of coffee and chocolate coming from inside.

Making a pot of it, I have to say that currently my office area now smells like a bakery had made a chocolate cake. While pouring, I noticed that unlike most of the coffees I've tried, this particular one was a bit lighter in color. Breathing in the aroma after I've poured myself a cup, I not only could smell the chocolate and coffee but faintly the hint of macadamia but oddly enough a tiny bit of raspberry. Maybe it was just me on that last one but I couldn't wait to try it. Sipping I found that the coffee, though the name of the blend made me think that it would have been strong, was actually fairly light in flavor. Not something I was expecting but makes sense since unlike most coffees I've tried which have a Columbian base, this is much more like the Gevalia Kaffe Traditional Roast that I reviewed which is Arabica coffee.

Doing a bit of price checking on the Hawaiian Isles Kona Coffee Co. website, I did notice that this particular flavored coffee isn't listed on their page but all of their coffees are actually only $7.25 for the 10oz (283g) bags. That's a $2.24 mark up if you bought it at World Market. I was a bit surprised until I checked on buying a single bag and having it shipped from Hawaii to me. If by the US Post Office, an additional $6.20 would be tacked on to the cost of the coffee ($13.45 total). If by FedEx Ground which will get the product from Hawaii to me in 5 to 8 days, that is $13.50 tacked onto your price ($20.75 total). Then there is the FedEx 2day Air option which is an additional $21.30 to your price tag ($28.55 total). Unless you're buying in bulk or the store just doesn't have the flavor or type you're looking for, I don't think the shipping option would be the best idea for most people. The only possible way that I can see people enjoying the $7.25 price for their coffee is if they live in Hawaii or they are there for vacation as it is and buy it there at the source. So for those of you who want to enjoy this brand, your best option is going to be buying it from a grocery store or World Market.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Poe at the movies

I have been meaning to post about this particular movie that would seem has already been released in the United States and Canada back in April. Dark, horrifying, yet strangely beckoning, the trailer makes the movie appear as the perfect film for Edgar Allan Poe's work. Not much into horror or thriller films myself, I was more captivated by the costuming that they showed. I was happy to see that the clothing, environment, and weapons are of the period in which the film is set in. Just with a quick look through the trailer, I noticed that they even paid attention to how mass produced 'books' during the time period had more of the appearance of pamphlets.

(Sorry but had to find a new link since the one I have posted no longer exists. Here is a new link to the movie trailer:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qeLrtwniqM4  )

Trying to look up some information on the movie to see if I could out a little bit more, I was surprised that there was an article about it on smithsonianmag.com titled Edgar Allan Poe: Hollywood's favorite Mad Genius. What's nice is that they reference a few other films that were created in the past based off of his writings such as The Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism (1967) which is a German adaptation of The Pit and the Pendulum. The article goes on to talk about the history of how Poe's writings influenced other films and novels. It wasn't exactly what I was looking but it was certainly a fascinating to read. Would still would love to find out who was in charge of the costuming and hair for the movie. Would I see this movie? Probably not since such dark thrillers aren't my cup of tea but I do know that there are a few friends who would be interested in seeing it.

Coffee Review: Johnsons Irel Pure Ground Coffee

It started off as me wandering the internet at 12:30-1 in the morning looking for potential coffee that I might be interested in trying out. My search lead me to Cost Plus: World Market where I was wandering their coffee section. I nearly decided to order some online when the thought "Wait, there's one in Laguna. Why waist money on shipping and handling when I can just go to the store to pick up what I want".  Venturing to the store near where I live, I made my way to where they had their coffee and tea. Scanning the shelves of various brands, my eyes were drawn to the green packaging at the bottom shelf which seemed to almost be trying to get my attention by peeking out from the tins around it. What was it? An 8oz (227g) bag of Johnsons Irel Pure Ground Coffee which is ground and packaged in Northern Ireland. For only $6.99, I figured that I would go ahead and try it out just in the name of curiosity.

Right off the bat, I find that there is a problem with the packaging. A bit difficult to get open, the bag does not have a way to be sealed again so you have to put it into another resealable container in order to make sure it doesn't go stale (personally I've stuck the bag into a ziploc bag). The aroma being emitted from the bag however was rather robust and relaxing. Brewing up a pot, I was rewarded when I poured myself a cup with a rather aromatic brew with a strong, almost fruity taste. The smoothness to the coffee has so many of the characteristics of a Colombian that it is my best guess of what this particular brand is.

Sipping my cup while looking up the company online (part of me hoping that the website wasn't in Gaelic), I finally discovered it. Strangely enough the particular type that I purchased at World Market is not listed on the Johnsons Coffee website. I really have no idea why which I find a little weird especially since I just wanted to compare the prices. They do however list other blends that they have available which is nice.  As far as the coffee itself, I find it rather nice and worth the cost but the draw back that may put potential buyers off is the fact that the packaging needs to be stuffed into a bag or some other resealable packaging to make sure that it stays fresh. The other draw back is that I have only found it at World Market in store. What does this mean? The fact that it is not listed on their website either and only discovered it on the shelf by pure chance. The negative of this is that if someone wants to try it out, there is  the problem of there might not be a World Market near their location and no guarantee that the store would be carrying it.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

O mighty coffee bean, bless me with sanity

It has been one crazy month already and it's only the first Saturday in May. Have a feeling that I'm going to have to find a way to do a few Coffee Reviews at some point this month. Anyhoo here's pretty much what's going on for me:

DeviantSAC May group show at Studio 24
Me and 10 other artists who are a part of the Greater Sacramento Art Group (also known as DeviantSAC) are joining forces and showing our works at Studio 24 on K Street which was kindly letting us show our work from May 12th to May 14th. Going to be interesting getting gallery shots of the show so that I can go ahead and post them on the group Facebook page but I'm looking forward to it. As one of the three co-founders of the group, I pretty much am in charge of keeping things organized, people on track and do all of the announcements to the general public about our upcoming shows. 

Blue Moon Gallery featuring Gloria Woolley & Joel Reber 
As always, looking forward to taking pictures of our monthly shows at the gallery. This time around I'll be at the DeviantSAC show in the morning taking care doing coverage for that before hurrying across town to take care of helping finishing preparations for this show. Can't wait to get the shots of this show and get them posted on the gallery's Facebook page (which I started and maintain with all updated information on the various shows and special events that we have at Blue Moon). 
I am also getting paintings ready to submit to our curator by the end of the month for our show in August featuring participating members of the Blue Moon Collective Artists. 

On top of the shows and updating I'm doing for Blue Moon Gallery and DeviantSAC, I am now happy to say that Sunlight of the Spirit (which I call SotS for short) is carrying some of my art along with my bookmarks. I still need to go ahead and start designing a series of designs just for their store but the folks there are nice and the atmosphere is rather relaxing. Go ahead and check out their website for more information. 

Things coming up:

I am also needing to get some designs done for an upcoming show in July for the Sacramento Rescue & Restore Victims of Human Trafficking Coalition that a friend of mine is getting things organized for to put on. This particular show is going to be focusing on Fair Trade so it's going to be interesting to get things made for it. I'll be posting about it more when it gets closer to the show date. 

Also coming up in July is another group show that we at DeviantSAC are trying to get together. Currently we're still ironing out the details of securing a venue location but I should be able to make an announcement about it sometime in the middle of this month. Keeping my fingers crossed on this one. 

Well that's pretty much the low down on what's going on with me right now. Shows, business and monthly Elk Grove Artists (EGA) meetings. And coffee. Lots and lots of coffee. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Kinkos Chronicles - part 4

This installment of The Kinkos Chronicles is brought to you by lack of sleep, Starbucks, and all around morning mayhem. Actually this is what happens when I have things that I need to get done, have no vehicle (the engine on the truck is dead), and the only time I can possibly find time to do what I need to while also getting a little exercise in is in the early morning hours.

May 1, 2012
There is a lot that I've discovered about myself and the world around me in the early morning hours. Starting off that my inner voice is a ruckus of jumbled thoughts when up and out of the door by 6:30 in the morning before coffee. Just from my house, my brain went from "God it's so early" to a scene from Down Periscope (1996) (good movie by the way), to the commercial for Prototype 2. By the time I reached the Starbucks near my house which is only about 2 maybe 3 blocks away, I had Too Close by Alex Clare playing in my head (mixed with some yawning of course).

At Starbucks, I noticed 2 things:
First - that there is close to no one on the road until about 6:50 and then it's as if the flood gates open up and suddenly there is a mob of vehicles going every which way in a dysfunctionally organized ballet. Of course many of the dancers must have missed rehearsal a few times because there was almost an accident at one point while I was waiting to cross the street.
Second - at 6:30 in the morning, there are more people in the drive through wasting gas just waiting to order then there are customers inside. What the hell?? Including me there was only 3 people inside and I received my order faster then the van that has a 6 person capacity with only the driver inside who was waiting at the window. Dear God what they say in Over the Hedge (2006) is right! Come on people. You complain about gas prices and don't want to waste the fuel you have, but you are driving a huge vehicle AND you're waiting in a drive through for coffee. Park the damn thing, go inside, get your stuff then go about your business.

Once at Kinkos, there was only me and another customer there since it was only about 7:30 in the morning. This is great since that means that I'll be able to get done with my order sooner then if there was more customers and I had come an hour or so later in the day. Minding my own business at the cutting board, I had made the occasional idle chit chat with a woman nearby who was making copies of some things. Once she was done, she complimented me on the designs and had left the store only to come back 2 minutes later with a card making the comment of "I couldn't help but notice that you're drinking coffee. Here! Go to my website and check it out!" As she smiled and handed me the card, I instantly remembered who the hell she was. Yes folks it was the lady I mentioned in The Kinkos Chronicles - part 2! Why??! Why am I a magnet for every strange person in my area?! All I could do was give a polite smile and thank her as she cheerfully wandered out of the store. If this is how my morning has gone, I'm not sure if I should look forward to what my day is offering me past 1 this afternoon.

Bring on the coffee! But first sleep..

Well after a lot of hard work, I finally got into a shop that I had been in correspondence with for the past month or so. It's called Sunlight of the Spirit and is a nice little book and gift shop on J street. What I'm most excited about is that they're willing to carry my bookmarks which means that more then likely I will be designing and making a line of bookmarks specifically for them. Never heard of the place? You should go ahead and pay them a visit. What's nice about them is that they're aim is to support non-profit organizations who help those who are recovering from addictions and such.

Now as I'm winding down from my day, I'm back in the thought process of work since now not only do I get to keep up on my own business; what work I do for Blue Moon Gallery since I'm one of the collective artists there along with started & run the facebook page for the gallery (check us out! [insert shameless pluggery here]); helping keep track of show activities & making announcements for the DeviantSAC group I'm with where I update the group's facebook page, deviantART page, & participate in the group shows (we have one coming up May 12th @ Studio 24 on K street); but now I have keep track of what I put into the SotS. Of course this doesn't include the occasional competition that I enter such as the upcoming KVIE Art Auction. It's no wonder that I drink so much coffee. Oh well I better crash since I have to be up in 5 hours.