The Best Way to Skin Peanuts

I was given 1 pound of shelled red skin peanuts. Only problem was they were 1) raw, and 2) they had the skins on.

Searching Google, the answer was to roast them. Well, I knew they would burn quickly and I am not good at roasting small things that need to be watched constantly. So I asked my Chinese friends how they cook them. The answer was: Dry fry them in a fry pan or wok, stirring constantly to prevent burning, for 5-10 minutes, or until they are cooked. (no oil/no salt) Brilliant!

The problem came: How to get the skins off without spending a lifetime rubbing each little devil between your fingers. Tried Google to no avail. No suggestion was quicker. When cooled, I put them in a large ziplock baggie and waited for another Chinese friend in the morning, who would show me what to do.

While I waited, I pushed down on the peanuts in the bag, rubbing them against one another. That worked but I was still left with a mess of skins in the bag together with the cleaned peanuts. He told me to bring the peanuts and a flat basket and meet him outside in the courtyard.

Basket for skinning peanuts

Basket for skinning peanuts

We dumped the peanuts onto the basket, rubbed the peanuts a little more. Then we shook the basket over the plants, while blowing the skins away. More than brilliant! How perfect!

Good for the plants, no fuss/no muss cleanup for me. Voila! Skinned peanuts.

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TORAH STITCH BY STITCH: Part 5, My Panel Was Accepted

On a rare and beautiful weather winter’s day in downtown Toronto, Arlene and I made our way to deliver our stitched canvas panels to Temma Gentiles, the visionary and tireless volunteer of the project, TorahStitchByStitch.org. We met this great fabric artist and had a lovely chat, telling her how we came to do the stitching and what it meant to us.

Temma & her box of finished panels

Temma & her box of finished panels

Arlene and I, proud as peacocks!

Arlene and I, proud as peacocks!

It was wonderful to meet the genius behind the project, who works tirelessly to make everything run like clockwork. There’s so many stages to the project that require thousands of emails every month. Everything from seeking out volunteer stitchers, preparing and sending out the kits, assigning helpers to give a hand during the stitching phase, binding all the finished panels, and preparing and printing a book that documents all the stitcher’s works. With many events in the planning stage to display the works, this project is coming around the corner to the finish line!

I received this email message from one of the volunteers and excitedly found out that, YES! my panel has been accepted: “Just a quick note to thank you for your completed canvas. We are glad that you enjoyed this stitching project and found it so meaningful.

Your canvas is quite lovely and the lettering is strong and vivid. The border and the pastiche at the bottom add to it’s beauty. Yasher koach!”

You can see recent events, scanned panels and slide shows by clicking on these links to the website:
http://torahstitchbystitch.org/events-activity/summer-2017-collection/ and http://torahstitchbystitch.org/events-activity/previous-slide-shows/

Contact TorahStitchByStitch.org to volunteer to stitch a panel.

Advert to publicize this project

Advert to publicize this project

Advert to publicize this project

Advert to publicize this project

As you can tell, I am beaming with pride to be a part of this great stitching of the Torah scriptures and look forward to seeing it all hanging on a wall in some auspicious place!

 

 

TORAH STITCH BY STITCH: Part 4 Delivering my finished stitching

Torah Stitch by Stitch - ROZ WEITZMAN

Torah Stitch by Stitch – ROZ WEITZMAN

I chose to do the stitching because the connection to Judaism and wonderfully creative project appealed to me so greatly. It felt like important work and really enticed me to want to complete this.

My illumination has some deep significance for me because of my connection to China through educational consulting and Chinese food cookbook writing. I chose to depict a Chinese gold yuanbao (pronounced you-an bao’) which is an ancient form of gold or silver currency used until the 19th century in China because I did the stitching while I was in China and my verses refer to the retribution that was paid in many forms, with a lot of silver and gold.

I am proud of this work – that my stitching can be part of a larger global community of people who did this project together. I feel blessed that I was able to be included and my heart was touched by the feelings that it evoked in me about my treasured religion.

 

 

The Making of a Colour Chart

Finished Colour Chart

Finished Colour Chart

My goal for the past several months has been learning about watercolours. To continue achieving my goal, I completed this colour mixing chart this month to get to know my colours. It wasn’t quick – that’s because I have 30 colours.

Over the summer I had a great art fix with a new bunch of Daniel Smith watercolour paint tubes. I actually didn’t know where to begin choosing colours so I called on my watercolour Facebook friends for advice. I already had 6 tubes of DS that I had used in a Craftsty online class I took about watercolours and really loved the way they painted. I was eager to graduate to the artist quality paints from the Winsor & Newton Cotman paint set I had received from Kelly Medford’s class in Rome last year. This set was great to start and very easy to learn to use and carry around with. But after a year of using them, it was time to move on. At the end of the discussion I had a long list of ‘must have’ colours, whittled down to 24 more.

I found out that the colours you choose for your palette really depends on the type of painting you do. I haven’t stuck to one kind of painting (flowers, landscapes, still life) and am trying them all, so I just chose the colours that appeal to me the most. Since my new palette has room for more paints and moving them around, in the long run this choice is likely to change.

Studying how to mix paints to make attractive colours, I have found out that the 3 other paint mixing charts I’ve made have been so very helpful to use in my painting. Besides being helpful, the orderly esthetic of a finished chart appeals to my senses–somewhat like a work of art in and of itself!

Writing about the making a colour chart is my way of documenting it for myself for the future, and helping others to make their own colour charts!

You Will Need

  • Sharp pencil & eraser
  • Ruler
  • Permanent marker
  • Your watercolours, pans and tubes
  • Your choice of paper
  • Water container
  • Paint brushes, one large (perhaps size 8) and one fine (perhaps size 2)
  • Large white ceramic plate
  • Small white ceramic plates
  • Squeeze bottle (optional) to activate your paints for the pans
  • Paper towel or cloth to wipe down your dishes.
large and small dishes

large and small dishes

Measuring Is the First Step

  • I like to use a quilting ruler (but of course any ruler will do) because it’s got Metric and Imperial measurements, is see-through and has lines on the ruler, all helping with accurate measuring.
measuring and drawing

measuring and drawing with a see-through quilting ruler

  • I also like the Metric measures because when you have to use a calculator to divide the size of the paper by the amount of colours to get the size of the boxes that you paint in, you get an answer that’s in metric too.
  • Jenny, in her blog post describes in great detail how to measure and draw out you chart, which is also the way I draw it out. Don’t forget to take your border measurement on all 4 sides into account.
  • I also add a column to the far left and the top row to write the names of the colours.

Draw Out Your Chart

  • Use a sharp pencil to measure how far apart the lines will be by ticking off the lines at the left side of the page and the right side. Then repeat with the top and bottom sides of the pages.
  • Draw the first line by matching up the two ticks at either end, and using the ruler’s edge as a gauge to keep the lines straight. A see-through ruler is helpful to keeping the lines straight because you can match up the lines on the ruler to the edge of the paper or another line that is straight already.
  • Write the names of the colours in the left column and at the top.

Put Your Paint in Order

Having grappled with the order of the paint colours before, the best way is to arrange your paints according to the ROYGBIV order. http://acronyms.thefreedictionary.com/ROYGBIV . Unfortunately I have a few out of order but it’s okay!

DS paint in order by ROYBIV

DS paint in order by ROYBIV

 

DS paint in order by ROYBIV written down the side and initials along the top

DS paint written down the side and initials along the top

Call Me Crazy

On a whim, I decided that to be neat in my painting (because I knew it would be hard to paint in such small a squares without mixing the colours), I would mask out the space between each square to keep it between white.

It was fast because I used it directly from the bottle but definitely not in perfect lines. Oh well, art isn’t perfect! Using a fine brush to draw the lines, I thought, would take much more time.

I learned after a few lines that it was best to always keep the bottle held at a 45° angle. The angle keeps the air from flooding into the tip of the bottle and making a big blob when you put the tip to the paper. And have a paper towel or cloth nearby to wipe up the tip.

As it turns out it wasn’t so crazy as I didn’t have to focus on make the boxes so neat.

the dreaded blob

the dreaded blob

 

masking the lines

masking the lines

Painting Your Chart – Saving Paint and Time With My Process

I diverge from Jenny’s instructions here to save paint and time once the chart is graphed out.

1) In a small dish start with the first colour (horizontal or vertical doesn’t matter) and mix a juicy pure colour mixture with your large brush. Save time by using the paint straight from your tube (if you are making your own pans).

2) Around the outside of the large dish, deposit a small drop of the colour for each of the other colours (if you have 24 colours, you need 23 drops around the outside. If you have 18 colours, you need 17 drops, if you have 12 colours, you need 11 drops. Get the idea? Then paint the colour in the box over top of the name of that colour on the left side and at the top.

NOTE: if you paint the colours down the side and across the top, you don’t have to paint the mix of the same colour which makes a white diagonal line through the chart.

Paint swatch of the name of the colour in the left column and across the top.

3) Dip your small brush into the second colour right in your paint palette and load it half the  consistency of water to paint as the first colour.

4) Add a same size drop of the second colour to one of the first colour drops on the big dish, mix together and paint in the right box on the paper. This will make a 1:2 ratio of first to second colour for every mix down the side of your paper. The swatches going down in the bottom half of your chart will have a 1:2 ratio and the swatches going across the top half of your chart will have a 2:1 ratio.

first colour

first colour

NOTE: If you wish to CHANGE the ratio, change the amount of colour you put on your brush. For example if you want 1:1, use the same size drop of the second colour as the first colour. Then you only need to mix the bottom half of the chart under the diagonal.

5) Clean off the dishes and brushes. For my chart this was the most tedious part of the project. Get clean water.

6) Repeat #2, #3, #4 and #5, painting the swatch of name of the colour in the left column and at the top. Then continue until you have all the colours mixed and painted.

third colour

third colour

Almost done

Almost done – Check out my computer, watching a Craftsy Class projected onto my TV while I’m working.

 

Finished - still has masking fluid

Finished – left side still has masking fluid

Once the whole thing’s dry, erase the pencil lines and remove the masking fluid. Note the difference mixes down the diagonal and across the diagonal.

Voila! Done!

Finished Colour Chart

Finished Colour Chart

Take away for me:

I have a whole lot of beautiful colours.

Some are pure; some don’t mix well because they themselves are not pure. I got a lot of mud mixes with them.

Some are great for landscapes; some are ‘bubble gum’ colours.

Some are surprising like Buff Titanium, which is a beautiful colour on its own or mixed with other pigments.

Neutral Tint is anything but neutral – it’s a very strong back shade if  you use too much.

All the purples are lovely. As are all the Quinacrodones.

*****Now to get painting more often!*****

P.S.> Your comments are greatly appreciated.

TORAH STITCH BY STITCH: Inspiring on so many levels, part 3

Finished Torah Stitch by Stitch Panel

Finished Torah Stitch by Stitch Panel

To say I am overjoyed would be an understatement. Almost 2 months to the day from when I started (August 6, 2017), I have completed my stitching. On September 16, 2017 I finished the script. Today, October 4, 2017, I finished the border and my illumination too.

Because I’m in China while doing this, I stitched a “yuanbao”, which is boat-like shaped silver or gold ingot currency used in Imperial China. Since the illuminations are limited to 5 colour choices and grey or silver isn’t one of them, I decided to keep it simple and make it gold using the allowed gold thread. I found the shape I liked, used an app to graph out the shape and went to work again!

Images of yuanbao

Images of yuanbao

 

Graphing the yuanbao

Graphing the yuanbao

The result is something to be proud of, while being very enjoyable to do! Thanks to the www.torahstitchbystitch.org organization for sharing this opportunity with me.

You can read about my progress here and here.

TORAH STITCH BY STITCH: Inspiring on so many levels, part 2

On July 21, 2017, I received my kit as a volunteer to cross-stitch my portion of the www.torahstitchbystitch.org project. You can read about my start here , which I wrote on August 14.

I have really enjoyed doing this. It hasn’t been easy because I had to redo a lot of the stitches to get it right. Here are the photos of my progress in the past month:

stitching progress 1

stitching progress 1

 

stitching progress 2

stitching progress 2

 

stitching progress 3 shown with my Ott Lite

stitching progress 3 shown with my Ott Lite

TaDa!!!!!! Today I finished stitching the last characters. Thankfully now I don’t have to ‘kill myself’ for not completing it within the 6-month time-frame that’s allotted to each of us!

Finished stitching the letters

Finished stitching the letters

And now it’s onto the illumination for the text, an optional choice in the stitching — but since I have lot’s of empty space, I’ll do one, even though it’s going to be a challenge to find the right colour combination. Stay tuned to part 3!

Torah Stitch By Stitch: Inspiring on so many levels

My friend invited me to a synagogue to see some wonderful needlepoint and to a listen to a presentation by her sister-in-law. I was immediately drawn to photograph the huge project hanging on the walls of the huge room in the synagogue.

synagogue where Genesis hangs

synagogue where Genesis hangs

Being an avid crafter all of my life, embroiderer, crocheter, knitter, sewer, quilter, scrapbooker, miniaturist, sketcher, painter and artist, it would come as no surprise that I was mesmerized by the project that was before my eyes.

 

Having never participated in Shabbat services (even when living two short blocks from a synagogue for several years) I do not consider myself to be religious in any way. But if a Jewish holiday is coming up, I always prepare a lesson and a craft or cooking activity in class about that holiday. I do possess knowledge of the religious and historical significance of most of the holidays and avidly cook traditional food that I serve during them. To me, it’s all about bringing family together to celebrate Jewish tradition, but not in the pure religious manner.

One spin off is being a part of something much bigger than just doing some cross-stitch. Imagine I’m part of a worldly group of thousands and cross-stitching the Torah in Hebrew, including: an agnostic Jewish woman, a Mormon fire chief, a Muslim immigrant from Turkey and a Mother Superior at a church in the English countryside to mention just a few.

During the presentation, I was enlightened to the Torah containing 5 books, being: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. What I had seen on the walls was only the first book. They needed more than 300 more volunteers. I was in!

Beautiful stitching and illuminations

Beautiful stitching and illuminations

Signing up to cross-stitch a portion really did surprise me though, but looking back, I thought it was inspiring, a way to go back to my Jewish roots, participate in a huge project and do my share, along with create something so meaningful and do some handwork, something that I hadn’t done for many years.

Digging right in!

Digging right in!

I was so eager to get into the work and dug right in. I thought it was good enough to baste the borders on the cloth! Then stitch, rip out, stitch, rip out for the first row and part of the second. Humm! So much ripping out and I was going to run out of thread. I hadn’t carefully read the instructions, helpful hints or tips and at first I thought I had failed. Well, failure is not a word in my vocabulary. So I decided that I’d better be a ‘good student’, I went to do my research.

first line ripped out several times!

First line ripped out several times!

After the first week of stitching and I have finished 2 complete rows (5.5 more rows to go)…and I think it looks pretty good!

2 lines finished in the first week!

2 lines finished in the first week!

My portion is Numbers 7:55-7:58. It is part of the story of an outsider from another country who has an affair with the wife of the Israelite leader at the time. This causes a war between the countries. The Israelites win and the punishment is that the outsider must pay retribution in the form of one silver charger of the weight of an hundred and thirty [shekels], one  silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary; both of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a meat offering, one golden spoon of ten [shekels], full of incense, one young bullock, one ram, one lamb of the first year, for a burnt offering and one kid of the goats for a sin offering. My portion is short and leaves a large portion at the bottom of the aida cloth which is big enough for an illumination (illustration) for embroidering. Being in China while doing this stitching, I am thinking that I may embroider a yuanbao, which is ‘boat-like’ type of silver or gold ingot currency used in imperial China. Since the illuminations are limited to 5 colour choices and grey or silver isn’t one of them, I’d have to get creative!

silver ingot

silver ingot

If I don’t finish in 6 months I won’t kill myself, but I certainly will think about it…haha@!

For more information on how to sign up to stitch, or to visit the exhibit at Darchei Noam in Toronto, visit torahstitchbystitch.org (mention my name and they’ll mail you a kit).

Interesting reading about this delightful project at http://nationalpost.com/news/religion/the-stitched-torah-toronto-tapestry-project-inspires-volunteers-from-around-the-world/wcm/53889c37-86c3-40d2-91e6-1e4ae6062e83

A Passion for Tea: Meet Multi-Talented Roz Weitzman

Written by me.

Published in http://cloudnineteas.com/passion-for-tea-meet-roz-weitzman/

A Toronto native, Roz Weitzman is a respected educator, consultant, writer and artist. On her extensive travels across China, Roz discovered a passion for tea that she has turned into art: her images of China’s tea culture, tea farms and people all exude a wonderful warmth and authenticity that have instant appeal.

Get your bearings: Mengku township, southwest Yunnan, one of the first areas we sourced from

Wanting to know more a bit about her passion for tea, I approached Roz with a few questions.

Roz has generously agreed to share some of her artwork, together with her journey of tea discovery that we can genuinely call…

My Passion for Tea

Having never been a tea drinker in Canada, except for the odd tea bag in a cup with honey and lemon when I was sick, while in Hong Kong for a month I got a huge awakening at the Hong Kong Tea Museum. I observed not only ancient pictures of tea gatherings, but also all the accoutrements of tea – the loose leaves, the pots, cups, tongs, scoops, tea tables and strainers that are still being used today in modern China.

passion for tea

Learning from the digitized version in English of the famous book on tea, written way back at least 1200 years ago, I came to realize that tea drinking was a fine art and way more than the tea bag in the cup.

passion for tea
The presence of lady bugs and spiders indicates a healthy tea tree

As I met and socialized with more and more Chinese who were avid tea drinkers I began to understand the power of tea. I started to enjoy a variety of clear teas without sugar, milk or lemon for their taste, smell and appearance once steeped. Also the social gathering of tea drinkers as a hobby unto itself seemed to me as a way to broaden one’s mind while winding down from the stresses of life.

Visiting local tea houses in Beijing was always an uplifting experience with a number of ancient performances of Beijing Opera, puppet shows, or music played on very Chinese instruments such as the erhu or guzheng while enjoying your favourite tea.

In 2007, on a trip to Hangzhou, I had the opportunity to visit a tea plantation in Meijiawu, a centre of Longjing tea cultivation. Walking through the tea fields and helping the tea pickers to collect the leaves was an eye-opener to the care that’s taken to preserve the tea leaves for this tea. Its golden colour and the elongated tea leaf shapes floating in the water when steeped in a tall, clear glass add to the pleasant aroma and delicate flavour of this tea. This captivated my senses, and so began my real love of tea.

Another of my favourites is Tieguanyin. This is an oolong tea that’s processed in such a way the leaves become rolled into little green balls. My day is now incomplete if it doesn’t start with a brew of Tieguanyin. Once again it’s the colour, flavour and aroma that pique my interest in this variety, which is not only tasty. It is also a very good source of nutrients that are great for your health….an added bonus to the wonderful cuppa!

A Passion for Tea from South of the Clouds

passion for tea
Tea pickers in traditional dress

The most favoured tea of Yunnan Province in South-West China is Pu’er. Mainly purchased in compressed cakes, the older the tea cake, the more likely it is to be a good quality. I recently did a series of illustrations that depict producing Pu’er tea from main locations of the picking through the step by step processing, to the life of the people in the tea villages.

passion for teaAnd recently I found a new type of Pu’er product which is tea leaves cured inside the empty shell of small green oranges, the size of a golf ball. The taste when steeped is delicious. As you can tell, the whole process of tea and everything surrounding it have influenced me greatly.

passion for teaWhat I’ve really learned is just exactly why tea has been a favourite pastime in China for millennia, how to brew it, why it’s good for the body and the soul and how to gather friends around a tea table and admire and taste the loveliness of tea.

More Artwork by Roz Weitzman

passion for tea
A rope bridge on the Ancient Tea Horse Road, Yunnan
passion for tea
Totems on the roofs of homes in a tea village
passion for tea
Tea porters on the Ancient Tea Horse Road, circa 1920s

Pumpkin Carrot Soup

Now here’s a recipe that sings fall! An amazing taste that can’t be better. Your house will smell like pumpkin pie.

Pumpkin Carrot Soup

Pumpkin Carrot Soup

2 medium onions, diced
1/4 cup oil, your choice (I use grape seed oil)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, grated
1 liter water
4 teaspoons chicken or vegetable soup granules
1 small pumpkin, seeded and cut in quarters
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon each of nutmeg and allspice
1/4 to 1/2 cup 35% cream
Sauté onions in hot oil on medium heat until slightly translucent. Add garlic and continue to sauté until completely translucent. Add grated carrots, water and soup granules (or soup stock as desired) and cook for 10 to 15  minutes or until carrots are soft.
Meanwhile, place pumpkin pieces into a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 10 to 15 minutes. With a large spoon, scoop out the pumpkin from the skin and add to the cooking soup, along with the seasonings (add more to taste as preferred). Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes more or until pumpkin is cooked.
Pumpkin Carrot Soup cooking

Pumpkin Carrot Soup cooking

Remove from the heat and purée with a stick blender, a food processor or a blender. Stir in cream. Serve hot.
Enjoy!!!!!

 

1:144 Scale Chinese Buildings

Before getting deeply into the big project, the Chinese Tea House, I decided it would be good for me to ‘reactivate’ my rusty mini-skills such as painting, gluing, cutting, sanding and attention to details, those skills that I haven’t used for 10 years. So I made these wooden slot and tab building kits. The ancient styles include a Chinese Opera Theatre, a Chinese Tea House, a Chinese Silk Factory and a Chinese Inn or Hotel.

4 completed buildings

4 completed buildings

As good as they were when completed, they lacked a certain authenticity because of the exposed edges and the slots and tabs not being painted.

Ancient Chinese Opera Theatre

Ancient Chinese Opera Theatre

Ancient Chinese Inn

Ancient Chinese Inn

Ancient Chinese Silk Factory

Ancient Chinese Silk Factory

Ancient Chinese Tea House

Ancient Chinese Tea House

I worked to match the paint colours and painted the blue-grey and the brown exposed edges and white spots. Now I feel much better about their looking more authentic than before.

Ancient Chinese Inn Edges Painted

Ancient Chinese Inn Edges Painted

Ancient Chinese Silk Factory Edges Painted

Ancient Chinese Silk Factory Edges Painted

Ancient Chinese Opera Theatre Edges Painted

Ancient Chinese Opera Theatre Edges Painted

Last touch will be to paint the off white parts. Another job for another day.

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