Monday, August 22, 2016

Je suis Henri!

Je suis Henri!
Comings and goings; all granddaughters visited this past summer at one time or another. The girls love Henry. He's not as frisky as he once was, but always at the center of cheerful mischief; love and patience is evident. Summer is winding down, the echoes of happy laughter slowly fade.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Fruits from the garden...

Pictured, Einsheimer apple, from an ultra-dwarf fruit tree that we planted two seasons ago. First time apples have grown since planting. "Hallelujah!" a shout out from me. The tomatoes and peppers were harvested from my garden as well. When there is a good harvest, I take pictures, and now those pictures have become subjects for my paintings.

Family Pets in Watercolor; Sammy and Happy


My sister's two dogs, Sammy and Happy. As it turns out, Sammy is our dog Henry's best pal. They've known each other since Henry was just a young pup and that's about eight years ago and counting. Henry, who is an only child, adores Sammy and is happiest when he gets to hang out with these dogs. Happy is the newest adoptee in the Bikel household. She's a strange "cat" but I'm growing to know and understand her better.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Basil Jelly; Summer 2016

In the hot Temecula sun, I grow basil in the shade of a white paper umbrella.  Hubby's not big basil fan but still, I make pesto when basil grows. Having a bountiful harvest of healthy basil leaves, I wanted to do more. Herbal jellies came to mind, so I looked for a Basil Jelly recipe, gourmet stuff. This one comes from, posted by Maryland Jim. The basil flavor in this jelly is delicate, with just a hint of lemon. Success; this one is a keeper. Yummy!

1 cup fresh basil leaf, lightly packed
1 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cups water
6-1/2 cups sugar
2 (3 ounce) envelopes Certo liquid pectin

1. Place basil leaves, lemon juice and vinegar in an 8-10 quart sauce pot
2. Let basil, lemon juice and vinegar stand while you are measuring the water and sugar
3. Add the water and heat almost to a boil, stirring to blend, then add sugar all at once
4. Stir to dissolve sugar
5. Bring to a hard boil
6. Add both pouches of Certo, stir to mix and return to a hard boil
7. Boil for 1 minute or until jelly point is reached
8. Remove from heat
9. Remove basil leaves with a slotted spoon
10. Pour immediately into hot sterilized 1/2 pint jars
11. Seal and process for 10 minutes in boiling water bath

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Pen, Ink and Watercolor

Summer harvest: tomato varieties and jalapenos. Rendered in pen, ink and watercolor.

Meet Coco

This is Michael's cat, Coco.  Michael is our son.  He has a wife, two daughters and two cats, and they live happily in Idaho.  Coco stays out of sight when we visit, she is that shy. Another watercolor pet portrait, in keeping with my theme of family pets.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Einsheimer Apple from the garden

Einsheimer apple from an ultra-dwarf tree planted in our garden two seasons ago. Einsheimer is a low-chill apple. This is the first year apples have formed and I'm excited; there are only seven apples on the tree.  I wonder if they will be sweet or sour. Painted by me, using watercolor medium.

Family Pet Portraits, Ruby and Zander

More family pet portraits in watercolor.  Here are Ruby and Zander.  Ruby's been in the family since she was a pup; Zander is a rescue dog who has found a good home, a good life. Both belong to our son and his wife, Sean and Anna.  My painting skills are improving but there's so much more I need to learn.  The translucent quality of watercolor paints is addictive.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Jams Jellies and Relishes

June 22,'s a once a year tradition of mine to put up jams and jellies.  This week I made Mango Pineapple Jam, Mango Jalapeno Jam, Red Onion Marmalade, Sweet and Zesty Zucchini Relish and Candied Jalapeno Slices, all pictured above, all very yummy, most of them more sweet than savory. The red onions which went into the Red Onion Marmalade are homegrown from this year's early harvest.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Favorite Pet Portrait in me

Here it is, using a photo taken by my photo buff son, Michael, as a painting guide, "Our Henry." 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Hello Henry!

Working on watercolor painting skills.  Here's Henry, my first pet portrait in watercolor.  

Monday, June 13, 2016

Pickle Time

June is almost too early, but when fresh pickling cucumbers like these appear at the local Asian market, it's time for crispy, crunchy homemade refrigerator pickles.   Mine is a small-batch recipe for Easy Refrigerator Pickles, and they are yummy.  Fresh dill and a Bay leaf gathered from my very own garden make home canning a happy event in my kitchen.

Fresh dill from the garden
Potted Bay Leaf plant

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Rose and Honeysuckle

A simple posy; rose and honeysuckle from my garden
Watercolor rendition of rose and honeysuckle posy

Monday, June 6, 2016

Realistic Watercolor Rose

First layer 6/5/2016
Finished 6/7/2016
Switching gears from quilting and gardening where I have spent most of my time lately, I am having fun with watercolor painting.  Here is a rose I am working on from a class, Realistic Watercolor, Step by Step, offered by artist Anna Mason, through

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Doves live here

Morning at the Casita and see what I see; two doves on top of the swing set.  It is spring and they are here every day; there must be a nest nearby.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

One Jelly Roll to Make a Quilt

I purchased a quilt kit from Craftsy that included one jelly roll, 5 yards of fabric for the background, sashing and borders, and 2/3 yard of fabric for the binding, all to make one quilt top.  I will need another 5-1/2 yards for the quilt backing.  This quilt will measure 72-1/2" x 85" when completed.  In this picture are squares and triangles that I spent a good amount of time cutting, using a rotary cutter. Now I'm ready to piece together the blocks; here's my first one, 12" square.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Another basket; on a roll

On a roll; two completed.  How many more shall I make?  These will make nice Christmas gifts, I think.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Small fabric basket

Now that I've got bags and duffles out of the way, I have time to play with charm packs and fat quarters that I've been collecting.  I purchased this Basket of Charms pattern by Sweet Jane at a quilt show.  I chose to make the smallest of three baskets, which measures about 4"x 6".  See the 2" square pincushion made from extra scraps?  This is a handy basket for keeping needle, thread and scissors at my side when stitching and mending.

Embroidered Drawstring Backpacks

Personalized drawstring backpacks made for the girlies by Grandma; now finished and on their way to Idaho.  I think I've got bags and travel cushions out of my system for the moment.  

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Calico Quilter's Casita; Spring 2016

Angels welcome here

Angels welcome here.

April 2016; In the garden...

Spots of lavendar, rose geranium and sweet alyssum grow amidst a mint patch which is kept in check by hardpan soil.
A view of my Calico Quilter's garden in the springtime.  It's not a large area, but every garden requires daily maintenance to thrive.  I spend early mornings in the garden, watering and tending the plants.  Roses do well here.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Child's Duffle Bag and Drawstring Backpack

Still cranking out bags for the granddaughters.  These are for Natalie.  Nat's 4 years old (almost 5) and currently into gymnastics.  I lined the duffle with this very cute print fabric and with the leftovers I made a drawstring/cinch bag backpack, just the right size for Natalie.  The bag measures about 13" wide by 15" long.  I looked at a lot of drawstring backpack patterns before I came up with this version of my own.  I used Butterick 5934 to make this duffle.  I had no struggles sewing this one and have made it twice already; definitely a go-to bag patterns.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Dance bags in the making

Chloe is an endearing grandchild who loves her ballet lessons.  When she was younger I made a ballet bag for her, pink canvas with black gingham trim, custom-sized to her small frame.  Chloe is 7 years old now and she needs a bigger bag.  So, here it is sewn up in  red, with hot pink trim; Chloe has loved the color red for a while now.  Thank goodness for granddaughters which gives me good reason to use the embroidery feature on my very fancy sewing machine.  Chloe's bag...all done!  Next I am working on a bag for Natalie who is our little 4-year-old gymnast.  After that, I'll be making a dance bag for Jaden who will be 13 in July.  Three fabulous granddaughters, Jaden, Chloe and Natalie. We are so blessed : )

Monday, March 21, 2016

Travel Pillow

Making travel pillows for my girls.  This one measures 8-1/2" x 16".  That handle will be very handy when on the go.  Very easy project; I'll be making more of these.  The only thing I will do differently is to add a pocket on the back side.  

Little pillows

Found this Pillow Pal pattern on Etsy (Nanoo Designs).  The finished pillow measures about 10-1/2"x13-1/2" not including head and appendages.  I embroidered those sweet faces using two strands of black embroidery thread.  The hair and rosy cheeks were ironed into place using Lite Steam-A-Seam II.  I blanket-stitched around the edges of the hair and cheek circles to finish the raw edges. It would not be difficult to create your own pattern pieces for a project like this.  I would note that the heads on the two Pillow Pals that I made, flop at the neck; however, they are cuddly soft, travel pillows which I hope will make two little girlies happy.