Its 2020 and it’s in the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic, we have been ordered by our Governor to “Stay Home & Stay Healthy”. Not only did this mean quite a bit of change for my work life, but changes in my free time and my daily commitments. This was not an easy change, I struggled with feeling like I couldn’t go places and do things that I wanted to do. I struggled with being home for weeks on end and only seeing my husband and parents (who live next door.)

But this time was also a blessing for me! It gave me time that I had not had in quite a while to explore art again. Which lead me to brush pens and then to watercolors that I have had sitting around for years!

I started watching videos online about how to watercolor, the best paint and brushes to buy. Then I started trying out the techniques I had seen online. My first though was, I am not sure why I am trying this, I have never liked watercolors, nor was I ever any good at it. But my first few brush strokes after watching some videos were rather good. So, I started branching out, finding ideas to paint and just taking a stab at it! Success!

I was able to complete a few very small paintings and then move right into some larger compositions. I invested in some good watercolor paper and off I went!

Here are some of most recent successful paintings. You can purchase prints of these paintings on Fine Art America or on products at Zazzle.com.

Wild Flower Watering Can

watercanandwildflowers

Off To The Flower Market

watercolortruck2
watercolortruck2

To purchase prints or products with this image click the image above. To see more of my artwork visit Fine Art America or Zazzle.

Watch for more post on my favorite watercolor supplies and brushes!

Enjoy!

A Product Review

The art of making cold brew coffee is a simple task and very easy to accomplish at home. Especially if you have a cold brew coffee filter from CoffeeSock Co.! I received my cold brew coffee filter in the mail a couple of weeks ago and I have been trying it out ever since and my husband Michael has been enjoying the cold brew on his way to work in the mornings.

At first, I was unsure if I would like the cloth filter from CoffeeSock. In the past I have used cheesecloth to brew the coffee, which allowed for quite a bit of sediment to escape from the filter into the coffee and was a hassle to clean up in order to re-use the cheesecloth. I was worried I was going to have the same experience with this new cloth filter, but I was pleasantly surprised that this was not the case at all! CoffeeSock's filter was very easy to clean up and as far as sediment goes, there was practically none in the finished product!

The art of making cold brew is a very simple process and easy to do at home. First I would recommend that you visit, www.etsy.com/shop/CoffeeSockCo and purchase one of their cold brew coffee kits or if you already have a mason jar at home purchase one of their cold brew filters.

Next, purchase some whole bean coffee, regular or decaffeinated, I prefer dark roasts, and grind it at the store or at home to a coarse grind. Then place your coarse ground coffee in your CoffeeSock filter and wet the grounds so that they bloom. (CoffeeSock Co. also has these instructions on their packaging for you). Then, close the filter with the strip of fabric at the top by wrapping it around the top of the filter a few times.

At this point, place your filter in your mason jar and fill with cold water. I prefer to leave the glass ring hanging over the top of the jar, so that its on the outside when I close my jar. Another way to complete the process is to put the glass ring around the top of the filter and then submerge the filter in the cold water and put the lid on your mason jar.

Allow your coffee to soak for at least 8-12 hours, remove the filter and its ready to drink. Prepare however you prefer your coffee, cream, sugar, or flavored syrup. You can even microwave the cold brew if you prefer hot coffee. The benefit of cold brew is you get a smoother coffee than with hot brew.

CoffeeSock Co.'s reusable organic cotton DIY cold brew kit (www.etsy.com/shop/CoffeeSockCo) makes the perfect gift for the coffee lover in your life! Their kits are also the perfect start to one of our mason jar gift baskets, just add some coarse ground coffee, flavored coffee syrups, a shaker of vanilla or cocoa power and one of our mason jar wraps available at www.bethannerickson.etsy.com and you have a personalized cold brew gift basket ready to give. For more mason jar gift ideas visit our blog post The Art of Mason Jar Gifts.

I highly recommend CoffeeSock Co.'s organic cotton filter for yourself or a friend!

Bonus Idea:

 By experimenting with my organic cotton filter from CoffeeSock, I found that I could brew a large batch of tea, using hot water and a mason jar to make iced tea. I used a berry flavored tea and then added some lemonade to sweeten and refrigerate. Perfect for the Mother's Day BBQ I hosted on Sunday. There are so many uses for your CoffeeSock organic cotton filter that its worth the purchase, even if you are not a coffee drinker!

Coming Next Week: Wedding Dreams: Coordinating the theme of your wedding.

Happy Wednesday! This week I want to share with you how to create your own mason jar gift basket! Gift giving is an art and to give the perfect gift you must think about the person you are giving it to and what they might enjoy. What could be more perfect than filling a mason jar with gifts chosen just for that person.

In the following tutorial I will give you a few ideas on how to create a mason jar gift basket. But the sky is the limit, well actually the size of the mason jar would be the limit, have fun and think outside the box, or should I say jar.

Step One: Purchase your mason jar in any size you would like to fill. Michaels, Hobby Lobby, and Wal-Mart, among many other stores, are good places to find these. If you are like me you already have dozens around your house.

Step Two: Visit www.bethannerickson.etsy.com to purchase a pre-designed mason jar wrap. The wraps are instant downloads that you print at home and then wrap around the outside of the mason jar to help set the tone of your gift.

Step Three: Trim the print to the correct size, tape one end to your mason jar and wrap around until it meets the other end and tape together to hold in place. (At the time of writing this tutorial our mason jar wraps did not fit around the quart size jars, we have now added a 14 inch file to all the listings on Etsy, but you will need a printer that can print on larger paper than 8.5x11 to be able to use them.)

Step Four: Fill your mason jar with the appropriate gifts for the recipient.

Examples :

Pedicure Kit: Nail polish (1-3 bottles), nail clippers, nail file, toe separators and any other nail care items you think they might enjoy.

Shaving Kit (Men): Small bottle of shaving cream, new razor and blades, small bottle of aftershave and any other useful shaving items.

Movie Night (Men and Women): Candy, popcorn, popcorn seasoning shaker, gift card to purchase a new movie.

Coffee Lover (Cold Brew Set): Cold brew Mason jar kit (Can be purchased at www.etsy.com/shop/CoffeeSockCo. A special thanks goes out to CoffeeShock Co. for offering to send me a ColdBrew filter to try out. As soon as I receive it I will post a blog about how it works and pictures of a completed Coffee Lover Gift Set.), coarse ground coffee, mini bottles of coffee syrups or simple syrups. (There are various recipes online for making your own simple syrup coffee flavors. They are also sold on Etsy.)

Tea Lover: Nut bag Tea Filter (for sun tea), Loose leaf tea, tea bags, instructions for making sun tea (www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/sun_tea), honey sticks (Can be purchased on Etsy or other local retailers.)

Date Night: movie tickets, restaurant gift card, pre-Movie date activities (search online and write them on colorful pieces of paper).

Artist: Mini Colored Pencils, mini sketch pad, small tubes of watercolor paints, watercolor pencils, watercolor brushes

There are so many more ideas; I could go on and on. I am sure you can come up with your own unique ideas. The key to the art of giving: It’s all about the recipient! Who are they? What are their hobbies? What do they enjoy? Focus on them and your gift will turn out perfect.

Thank you so much for reading our tutorial and don't forget to sign up to receive the blog in your inbox each week and we will send your a discount code good at our Etsy shop. Visit www.bethericksondesigns.com//beth-ann-erickson-designs to sign up!

BONUS IDEA:

Another wonderful use for mason jars to save money for special trips and/or purchases as shown in the example here of our Road Trip Fund Jar.

Coming Next Week: Mug Love: Mug Cakes as Gifts & more (WITH A FREE DOWNLOAD).

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