Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Backward and Forward

Did you all have a wonderful Christmas? I certainly did! Sort of...

Dave hurt his back Friday morning while taking a bag out of the back of the minivan. Really hurt it. He spent Christmas in quite a bit of pain, poor guy, but he seems to be on the mend.

Nathanael was sick with a cold. He's better but, in the spirit of the season, he gave it to Asher. Asher, very kindly gave it to me. Now I'm sick and I sound like a man. I keep expecting the boys to start calling me 'Dad'.

Do I sound like I'm whining? Sorry, I'll stop.

Oh, wait... maybe a wee bit more woe.

My mom and dad left for Florida Monday morning. So, on top of all else, I'm suffering from severe separation anxiety. After they left our house Sunday night, my husband held me close and murmured comforting thoughts in my ear. Like, "The next six months will go by so fast" or, "Maybe they'll sell their house right away". Such a wonderful guy! Until he said, "They're going someplace warmer." Suddenly, I felt like we were at a funeral! He was doing so good up until that point.

So, here I sit thinking about the New Year. I'm quite excited about it. 2010 was really wonderful. I so enjoyed having my parents so close. It had been a good 20 years since I had easy access to them. I know I got wrapped up in them- as did the boys and Dave- but it was so new and fun for all of us! Who can blame me for making my world a little smaller than usual? Oh, well! They are back to Florida now- someplace warmer. I'll miss them terribly but I think I'll be too busy to get maudlin about it.

I'm looking very forward to Asher turning three on January 9th. Two has been a bit trying- and that's putting it mildly. Talk about being wrapped up in someone! I had forgotten how all-consuming two can be. He is so independent. He wants to and, in some cases he can, do so much on his own. Unfortunately for him, and me, he has several limitations. For Pete's sake, he's only about three feet tall! He has been my constant companion and I adore him and his company. I still think he is one of the greatest surprises of my life. I can't wait to see what this next year of his life holds for him. (I'm thinking of teaching him to read. I'll let you know how that goes...)

That's it for now. The washing machine is calling my name. So is the dishwasher. And the dirty dishes in my sink. And...

Have a wonderful New Year!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas

I'm going to try and stay off the computer over the next few days and spend the time enjoying my family and Christmas. I hope you all have a lovely Christmas! And, if I don't post before... have a wonderful New Year!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Five for Friday: the Extreme Christmas Addition

Five Favorite Christmas Movies Before 1970:

1. A Christmas Carol (1938 version with Reginald Owens)
2. White Christmas (The only thing that makes me wish I had a sister is not being able to sing "Sisters, Sisters". I have to settle for a duet with my husband. We make it work.)
3. Holiday Inn (An earlier version of White Christmas with Fred Astaire instead of Danny Kaye. And it's in black and white.)
4. Shop Around the Corner (If you like You've Got Mail, watch this movie. It's what You've Got Mail is based on. Only better. And with James Stewart.)
5. It's A Wonderful Life (I bawl like a baby during the final scene where everyone in town is bringing George Baily money to help him out. Like. A. Baby.)
Five Favorite Christmas Movies After 1970:

1. Scrooge (With Albert Finney and singing! Thank you very much!)
2. A Christmas Story (I vividly remember the first time I watched this movie with my little brother.)
3. Christmas Vacation (From the opening scene, this movie does not stop. My absolute favorite part is when Clark has his little breakdown. I love Christmas but, don't we all reach a point where we are a hair's breadth away from a tirade similar to his?)
4. Pride and Prejudice (Not strictly a Christmas movie, but Christmas occurs during this movie and, any excuse to see Colin Firth...)
5. While You Were Sleeping (Cute and funny and romantic and... Bill Pullman finally gets the girl!)
Five Christmas Baking Musts:

1. Swiss Ruby Drops (Jelly. Non-pareils. Yum.)
2. Mexican Wedding Cakes (Powdered sugar. Pecans. Yum.)
3. Sugar Cookies (Cut-outs. Butter cream frosting. Sprinkles. Again, yum.)
4. Gingerbread Boys and Girls (Ditto.)
5. Fudge (I know you don't bake fudge. Yum.)
Five Things I love About Christmas:

1. Happy Birthday, Jesus!
2. Buying gifts for my boys.
3. Still not sleeping well the night before Christmas.
4. Christmas Eve (After the boys are in bed, with my husband, a bottle of wine and "It's A Wonderful Life".)
5. Decorating my house/wrapping gifts. (Bring it on!)
Eight more days to go! Eeeeeeee!!!!!:)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What I Want For Christmas....

...is to enjoy every minute of it!

One of the blogs I follow had a post about not missing the "sparkly eyes". It got me thinking about how every Christmas season I work pretty hard to make it festive and special and a treat for everyone. Then, about noon on Christmas Day, I'm exhausted and wondering what just happened. By then, I'm seriously considering having hot dogs for Christmas dinner instead of ham and all the fixin's. I really felt that way last year.

So, what am I going to do about it? I'm going to slow down, way down, and I'm taking everyone with me! This year, I don't care if it takes four hours, we're opening one gift at a time. Each one of us will take a turn to open a gift, revel in the excitement of said gift, show the gift off to all assembled, gaze at the gift a moment longer. Next!

Maybe it seems cruel to do this to kids but- I don't care! Last year, it was rushed and crazy and I missed half the gifts as they were being opened. I work pretty hard on Christmas lists, gift buying and wrapping. I spend the whole season excited about seeing so-and-so open their gift. I felt really bummed last year when it was all done. I was probably the only one but this year it'll change!

It won't hurt the boys to take their time, to learn what it means to "savor a moment". And, it'll be good for them to see that they aren't the only ones there, that it can be fun to watch others open their gifts. I forsee character developing!;)

So, that's the plan. I'll play Santa, slooooowww Santa. I'll make lots of coffee and hot chocolate and cinnamon rolls.

What's your plan for Christmas?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Five For Friday (X2)

I loooooove Christmas music. I start listening to it in October (don't judge me) because I am usually making Christmas stuff for Christmas shows. So, making a list of only five favorite songs doesn't seem right (or possible).

Therefore I have created two (still not enough) lists of five favorite Christmas songs for your listening pleasure. These particular songs are favorite versions of favorite songs. I have divided the lists into a grouping of Christmas songs and a grouping of Christmas Hymns. Enjoy!

***The first five songs are the Christmas songs, the second five are the hymns.

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

As far as my art and shows, etc. is concerned, 2010 is at an end. All I plan on working on is "The Ghost of Christmas Present". Other than that, I'm taking a wee break.

Sort of...

This has been an interesting year for me. I have had so much fun creating my sweet and creepy little portraits. I feel like I have finally found where I need to be and what I need to be doing. I have so many ideas for portraits, my brain can hardly contain them. But I do not find that overwhelming. On the contrary- I find it inspiring! I still feel rather"young" in my art though. I am anxious to grow and develop my art and my style.

What are my thoughts for this next stage? Here they are:

1. No more Christmas stuff. Decorations or portraits. I'm done with the decorations-crafting no matter what time of year it is. I've decided to just work on my portraits. That's what I truly want to be doing and I know that I will only get better the more I make. Nothing against Christmas but, it's hard to make Santa look macabre. He shouldn't look macabre. I've loved doing the characters from a Christmas Carol and I think they fit into my "style" just right. And perhaps next year I'll tackle the Nutcracker. I think there are a lot of fun and diverse characters to work with in that ballet. I need to and want to stick with creepy (sweet-creepy).

2. No more Christmas shows. People were out to by gifts not invest/collect art.

3. I'm going after some big shows. I've mentioned Ghoultide Gathering. There is also the Renegade art and Craft Show and there is a craft show at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I'm also think of doing the spring MSU show because they have an art side, not just crafts.

4. I'm going to start submitting my work in contest- ie. Cloth, Paper, Scissors Magazine and Art Prize in Grand Rapids.

5. I'm going to apply to become a member of EHAG and Spookytime Jingles. There are waiting lists for the groups so I know it won't be immediate but I need to get in line at least.

6. I'm going to get my website up and running. I'm going to really study the ins and outs of Etsy and I'm going to be a better blogger. This resolution stresses me the most. When I was in high school, computer classes were optional. At the art college I went to, computer aided design was optional, too. I didn't need no stinkin' computers. I was an artist! Ha!

7. "Perfect" the way I show and display my work. I got lots of good ideas at the MSU show and I'm excited about implementing them. I think. (What I really want is to make my portraits and then have elves sneak in at night, take the finished pieces away and do all that other stuff for me.)

That's enough for now. I'll elaborate on these plans as I tackle them.

I don't know if I'll be able to blog on Thursday. I'm spending the day with Nathanael at his school.

Off to do the laundry in my gorgeous washing machine. Enjoy your day!

Monday, December 6, 2010

A Tale of Two Appliances (and a minivan)

It's good to be back to "normal". (Don't ask me to define normal.) It's been a busy/crazy few weeks but things have finally settle down, at least to a dull roar. And, it isn't just Thanksgiving and a big craft show that has had me spinning....

First of all, a couple of months ago our garbage disposal died. Actually, it was just the outlet that died. My husband hasn't replaced the outlet yet because he just hasn't had time and other more important needs have arisen. In the grand scheme of things, no garbage disposal is no big deal. That's how I grew up, after all. I only tell you this little tale of inconvenience because...

About a week before Thanksgiving, the dishwasher died. (About a year ago, if I had written that sentence, it would have meant that I was communicating to you from the grave.) Again, not a big deal because, a.) it is under warantee and, b.) for the 8 1/2 years before getting the dishwasher, I was the dishwasher. I know how to wash dishes. The Tuesday before Thanksgiving, someone came out to look at the dishwasher and submit a report to the store that we bought it from. It was well and truly broken so we would probably get a new one, said he. Unfortunately, because of Thanksgiving and Black Friday, there was know way that the issue would be resolved until the next week. Normally, no big deal. However, this year we were hosting Thanksgiving dinner at our house. Visions of dirty dishes danced in my head. "Okay", I told my self. "Buck up, Buttercup, you can wash dishes." I went to my happy place until...

That same Tuesday, the washer began it's slow decline. It was dying, but not dead. I could do teeny, tiny loads but that was it. So, I began doing laundry everyday, in little loads, just to keep up. I was also worried that each load could be my last. Oh, the humanity! We then began the financially, painful search for a new washer. We found one, on Black Friday, and bought it. It's a beautiful, front loader. I loooove it! Now to move it to the basement of this old house and install it. No big deal, until...

The Monday after Thanksgiving, my husband did an oil change on our automobiles. He then got into my minivan to start it and... nothing. That's right, now my car wasn't working. Not a tragedy in that I also have an Explorer Sport to drive and Dave has another car to drive himself. Except that I carpool with another family for school in the mornings. My two kids and her two kids cannot fit into an Explorer Sport. So my dad, bless him, came to my house every morning to watch Asher so that I could take the kids to school.

Ready for some happy endings?

On Thursday night, Dave and my dad moved the gigantic, new washer down to the basement and installed it. Watching them move that beast was painful but it's down there now (and never coming back up!). It works and I loooove it!!!

On Saturday morning, after much research, my husband suspected that the minivan needed a new starter. Ouch! He began to take the engine apart to get to the starter when, what to his wondering eyes should appear but... a loose wire. Bingo, bango, the minivan is up and running!

On Sunday morning, my hero installed my beautiful, new dishwasher. There was, of course, a minor hiccup or two, but those ceased to phase us at this point.

And, while all of this occurred, I was frantically preparing for this big art and craft show and wondering how I was going to transport everything without my van. However, I have the worlds greatest parents and a downright magical husband. Everything worked out just right, just right!

This is a short, expletive-free tale of my past couple of weeks. I'm glad to be done with the shows for the year. I've had a happy day with Asher, grocery shopping and doing some much-needed housework. I even got to treat myself to some gift-wrapping while watching "Christmas Vacation". A good day!

Tomorrow, I'll fill you in on my thoughts regarding my art, my business and what I'd like to do with both.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving...

...a bit early!

Two pumpkin pies and the raspberry salad are done and crossed off my list. Dave will make an apple pie later and I do believe there is fudge in our future.

My parents will be coming over to celebrate the day with us. I haven't celebrated Thanksgiving with them in about 15 years so I'm really looking forward to it.

I've been sewing lots. I have one more show in a week and a half. It's a big one so I've been trying to get a lot made. Thus the silence. I feel a bit guilty about getting on the computer when I have so much to do (as I type this I am remembering a load of laundry in the dryer). The dishwasher died and the washer is dying. (Here's hoping there are some great appliance sales on Friday!) Not the end of the world but extra work I didn't need right now.

So, have a happy day! Enjoy your turkey and pie and family! I'll blog more regularly once I get this show out of the way.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Election Day Tuesday

Go out and VOTE today!

I have never been so interested in how other states are voting as I am now. It's quite exciting to see so many people so involved. I think our country has been asleep for a looong time. We're waking up now!

So, get off the computer and go VOTE! Then, get back on the computer and support your favorite artist or crafter! ;)

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Day After

Well, Halloween has past. I can't (won't) stop eating candy. I want to start decorating for Christmas. (Don't worry, I'm not. Today.)

We had a lovely Halloween. My parents were with us for the whole day and we celebrated BIG! My folks have not had anything to do with Halloween since I moved out at 19. (Where did I come from?) Because of their dry spell and it being the first Halloween that Asher understood what was happening, we had a party. I put up MORE decorations, bought MORE candy and had LOTS of food. At 5:00, the kids walked around the block in a mini-parade behind a fire engine, we partied some more with the neighbors and, at 6:00 they were off!!!

Dave took both boys around a big part of the neighborhood first, then he and Asher retired while Nathanael and I searched for more sugar. Both boys had lots of fun and I think all of the grown-ups did, too. At 8:00, I ripped the candy from the boys little hands and tucked them into bed. Popcorn was made, assorted candy bars were gathered and "Sherlock" was watched. (Looooove "Sherlock".) I do believe we slept like the dead. All in all, good times.

Here are some pics of my guys.

Dave, Fireman Asher and Nathanael Fett.

Isn't he a precious, little bounty hunter?!

Can you here him saying "Cheese!"? And how about that chocolate around his mouth? Didn't you know that all firemen have chocolate around their mouth?

Have a wonderful day!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Of Shoelaces and Clock Faces

Nathanael finally learned how to tie his own shoes yesterday. (Insert sound of villagers rejoicing here.) He is seven and a half. I think I was about five, at the most, when I learned how to tie my shoes. I was feeling pretty superior about that until I remembered that velcro shoes didn't exist in the early seventies. (We'd only just gotten ourselves on the moon, after all!) So, I realized I had to cut the kid some slack. I was the one buying him velcro shoes so that my life would be a teensy, weensy bit easier. Yeah, that back fired. Oh, well, he knows how to tie his shoes now and that's what's important!

And then I had this "physician, heal thyself" moment. I may be able to tie my shoelaces with my eyes closed but...

I'm not very good at telling time, not on a traditional clock face. In my day, instead of velcro, we had digital clocks. I relied on digital clocks more than I should and now I cannot just look at a clock and tell you the time. I have to pause and figure it out. I do better now. But, heaven help me if my life ever depends on my giving someone the time.

Then, there's that whole left and right thing. Left and right has always eluded me. Again, I do better now but not much! I always have to think a bit about which is which. I can't begin to tell you how envious I am of people who just KNOW their right from their left. Especially those who can answer the question, "Your right or my right?" (Just thinking about having to determine whether or not something is on my right or your right makes me break out into a cold sweat.) Thank goodness I got married. As long as I remember that my wedding band is on my left hand, I'm okay! If I ever have to diffuse a bomb and am told to cut the wire on the left, say your prayers!

I'm horrible with Roman Numerals. I apparently have the math level of a first grader. I can't parallel park. I pronounce ostrich oy-strich and almond owl-mond. I can't type very well and often get into a panic about one or another letter that has gone "missing". I can only hope that these have become endearing qualities. Old dogs and new tricks, ya know.

So.... Congrats, Nathanael! I'm so proud. Seven and a half is not to old learn how to tie your shoes.

Friday, October 22, 2010

5 Halloween Must-Sees

In no particular order...

5. "Thriller" video by Michael Jackson. I remember watching this with my little brother when it first aired. It was one time we were actually allowed to watch MTV, as a matter of fact. I had gotten the "Thriller" album (a big, round, black, vinyl thing called a record) for Christmas. We had the song memorized. I remember Christopher and I sitting in our dad's black, leather recliner that was aimed at our TV (the better to watch hokey games). The two of us clung to each other in anticipation- we were 11 and 8 when the video aired. It was so cool! Very worth the wait! Memories...

4. "It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown". Need I say more? Charlie Brown's costume. Linus' faith. Sally's loyalty. Sally's scorn. Lucy's rare tenderness. The Great Pumpkin. And, this perfect quote from Linus, "There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics and the Great Pumpkin."

3. The Muppet Show with guest star Alice Cooper. I remember when this came on, too. Again , watching it with my little brother and our parents. I was 8 and Christopher was 4 so we had no clue as to who this Alice Cooper was. I do recall a certain amount of confusion concerning the name "Alice". We just thought it was about the most incredible thing we'd ever seen. On the Muppet Show!!!

2. "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein". And Dracula! And the Wolfman! Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney, Jr., Glenn Strange, Abbott and Costello!!! Come on!!! I love, love, love Abbott and Costello movies, no matter who they meet!

1. "Young Frankenstein". Mel Brooks. Gene Wilder. Madeline Kahn. Mel Brooks. Cloris Leachman. Marty Feldman. Mel Brooks. Ah, Mel Brooks. That man can spoof a genre like no one else. This movie is not only funny, but the way it pays tribute to the great horror films and actors... A masterpiece! I love everything about it. Every line and action. "Walk this way." "Roll, roll, roll in the hay." "What great knockers! -Thank you!" "Frau Blucher." "He was my Boyfriend!" "But the candle back!" I could go on but I've got stuff to do!

If you haven't experienced any of these, I'd like to suggest that you do. I plan on introducing my 7 year old to Abbott and Costello this year. What do you like to watch this time of year to help you get into the Halloween mood?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Christmas Carol in Portraits

Another Christmas project for me this year is "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens.

I love "A Christmas Carol". I love every movie version there is. Each different movie has something about it that makes it a favorite. I have lines memorized right down to the slightest inflection and tone. And, don't get me started on the musical! Come Christmas time, I will watch these movies over and over and over and... You get the point.

So, with the new direction that my art is taking, "A Christmas Carol" seems to have been written just for me! (Thank you, Charles!) However, as much as I love the story, it's characters, it's various interpretations- I have never read the book! Surprised? Me, too! 2010 is officially the year I finally read "A Christmas Carol". But not quite yet...(it's October, for Pete's sake!!!)

I will be creating portraits of characters from the book for this holiday season. Each will measure 14" x 18", finished size. And, each will be as true to Mr. Dickens representation of the character in his writings. I plan on releasing, if not creating, each character in the order that they are introduced.

So, here are some peeks at my sketches so far. On my selling blog, Mr. Scrooge (the first) has already been released. Check him out.

Jacob Marley, Door-Knocker

Ebenezer Scrooge on Christmas Eve

Ebenezer Scrooge When the clock Strikes One

I plan on making several Ebenezer's as his character's nature changes frequently throughout the tale. I'm looking forward to making the Ghost's. Well, except for the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. I'm not sure how to do his portrait. Thankfully, he doesn't come about until the end of the book!

Keep checking back for updates here. And check out my other blog and Etsy shop for the completed portraits. In the meantime...

Bah! Humbug! :)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Random Tuesday

Tuesday blogs are for , well, anything. A chance for me to share my thoughts with you or something new that I have discovered. Here's the thing... I'm desperate for a thought, folks. I mean a deep, interesting thought. It's not happening for me today. So here are some random, not particularly impressive thoughts...

:: Nathanael is really into Star Wars. I love that because I was his age when I was first introduced to Star Wars (read: Han Solo). However, he is into the Clone Wars and all of the Anakin stuff. Which is before my time, as far as the Star Wars (Han Solo) I'm interested in is concerned. Yet, that part of the series was developed in my adult years and, therefore, after my time? This has produced a "which came first" scenario that is absorbing me and, I believe, the greater majority of my brain cells.

:: Did you know that in Baltimore, in the mid-1800's, pigs were let loose in the streets to "dispose" trash, etc.? I did not know this. I am assuming this took place elsewhere in the world. One more thing that is preoccupying me today. Go figure.

:: Have you seen the candidates in the running governor of New York? ( Head slowly shaking in despair.)

:: Asher is in such a terrible-two stage! He is down-right schizophrenic! No wonder I'm incapable of deep-thinking lately. Ever see the movie "Gaslight"? I'm beginning to think there is more to his behavior than meets the eye. At the very least, he has turned me into a twitching, paranoid, Joan-Crawford-one-minute, June-Cleaver-the-next version of my former self. When he turns three I'm throwing a BIG party!

:: Here are some pictures of the boys helping with the yard work.

Look at them! So cute!!!

He kind of looks like Han Solo when he got frozen in that copper stuff by Boba Fett.

Look at how well Asher's hair blends with the leaves.

Alright. Enough. I think I'll go fold laundry and watch the "Masterpiece" I recorded. There's nothing like a little "Wallander" to pick you up and make you think that your life is a-okay!

Monday, October 18, 2010

It's Momma Monday! (Again)

***I'd like to dedicate this post to the memory of Barbara Billingsly and her role as June Cleaver (super-mom) in one of my all-time fav's- "Leave It To Beaver".

Monday. Finally. I've been looking forward to this Monday for the past three weeks.

I've been doing a lot of sewing and show-prepping and birthday celebrating. And through it all, I've had my eye on today, Monday. A brief and needed bit of respite from the sewing and show-prepping. Even if it is only for a few days.

And what will I be doing? Cleaning!!! I miss cleaning my house! The kind of deep-down, intense, loose-track-of-time kind of cleaning. The kind of cleaning that results in re-decorating because you tear your house apart.

It actually began yesterday. I spent about an hour cleaning my half bath. A half bath that is called a half bath because you can only fit a half person in it. It shouldn't take more than 15 minutes to clean that "room". Now, don't think I was scrubbing on hands and knees, Cinderella-like. I just took my own sweet time! Because I could! And then I rewarded myself by "shopping" my Halloween crafts and re-decorating that tiny space. Asher was very impressed.

Today it was the kitchen. I've been dreaming about giving this kitchen a once-over for a while now. And I did. I also rewarded myself by re-decorating for Halloween. Again, Asher was pretty impressed. We celebrated with a trip to buy some pumpkins and gourds to scatter artfully around the kitchen and dining room. I still have to dust the woodwork in the dining room and give both floors a super-cleaning, but other than that we're looking good.

That's pretty much what my week is going to look like; cleaning, catching-up and being just mom.

I'm off to the eye doctor and perhaps a stroll around Target. Have a lovely day!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Gone Stitchin'

****I will not be posting anything new this week as I have a BIG show to prepare for on Saturday. See you next Monday!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Summary Saturday

What a week!

It began with a lovely, surprise over-night trip with my husband. And I was surprised! I didn't have a clue. It was nice hanging out with my bestest bud, eating out, shopping and being treated like a princess. We were just supposed to spend the day away together to go to the Ghoultide Gathering- but he treated me to lots more!

Summary #1: I have been truly blessed with my husband.

And Ghoultide Gathering! You can't take pictures there so I have none to show you. However, go to Ghoultide's website and click on the various artists. A lot of them have posted pictures that they took of the show, their work and the other artists work. It was a fabulous show! I felt like a kid. I got to meet artists whose work and faces I've seen only in magazines. I was really inspired (and wet- boy, did it rain!). I think my work would fit in there. Someday. Soon. After a wee bit of honing and refining.

Summary #2: I want to be in the Ghoultide Gathering.

I also turned 40 this week. I remember when Oprah turned 40 (quite a while ago). I remember how she made turning 40 seem like a better thing than turning 21. I wouldn't go that far but I see no problems with being 40. Besides, if I feel a little concerned about my age, I can just look at my wonderful husband and think, "At least I'll always be 5 years younger than him!" See, he really is a wonderful man!

Summary #3: I'm 40. We'll leave it at that.

The rest of the week has been spent frantically stitching. I've got another big show a week from today- eek! I'm working strictly on Christmas now and loving it. If you looked in my window, you'd see me in my Happy Halloween T-shirt stitching up an ornery-lookin' Ebenezer Scrooge, while Asher, in his Halloween shirt, holds up the Santa I made and says "boo!" to it's face.

Summary #4: We are holiday-befuddled and happy!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Five T.V. Crushes*

*Current T.V. crushes. I could certainly wax poetic on the many attributes of Pierce Brosnan from Remington Steele and Bruce Willis from Moonlighting. That'll be another post.

In honor of the end of the summer T.V. season and the beginning of the fall T.V. season, today's list will be dedicated to five T.V. actors/characters who reside in a small part of my heart. Nos. 5-2 appear in no particular order. #1 is #1 and I, personally, don't see that ever changing!

5. Tom Selleck. Look at him. The smile. The twinkle in his eyes. The voice. The mustache. I'd have to fight my mom for him but I think I have a chance.

4. Adam Baldwin. More specifically, John Casey on Chuck. I think part of the crush stems from the fact that he looks a bit like my husband. I love his (Casey's) attitude on the show. And he grunts. He could grunt at me anytime.

3. Matt Bomer. My parents practically forced me to watch White Collar. I'm so glad they did! It is a great show, for one thing. Then there's Neil Caffrey played by Matt Bomer. Adorable!! I'd have to fight my mom for him, too. To hear her talk about him makes me think I don't have as good of a chance.

2. Matt Passmore. Jim Longworth from The Glades. If you didn't see The Glades this summer, I pity you. Fabulous show! One of my favorites. And that hunky man above is the main reason why. His character is a rather straight-talking, sarcastic, tact-free homicide detective. It was love at first sight.

1. And last, but not least. The man who holds a somewhat inexplicable spell over me. The man I find my self thinking about, wondering about- and he's not even real. The man who makes me have a better understanding of where stalkers come from. The man who makes me laugh and cringe at the same time. Doctor Martin Ellingham from Doc Martin. (I know I have asked this of you before and I am going to ask it of you again- If you have not seen Doc Martin, see it. Now! ) Since the first time I saw Doc Martin, I found myself thinking (read: obsessing) about him until the next episode. I own all 4 series, I watch them repeatedly and I am anxiously awaiting series 5. Should they ever cancel this show.... Well, I just don't know what I'll do!

Okay, enough about my delusions, I mean, crushes. How about you?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Art Update- Plans for Christmas 2010

A peek at Joyeux Noel.

I've got lots of plans for Christmas. Lots. I have to. I have three more shows to do before Christmas. So what am I planning?

For show purposes, I will be creating a series of 12 Christmas characters. Miss Noel above is the first. Each of the characters will have their portraits done on a gift box, a tissue box cover and an 8x10 portrait. It's been fun coming up with the different characters and their names. Anyway, I've got the first set complete and am working on the second set- Santa. Nothing like making Santa's in early October. ;)

But of course, those little ones will not be all. I'm really excited about beginning work on my bigger portraits. Where will I start? Mr. Scrooge, of course!

Check out the couple of pics below. (Yes, I know there is a Shit Tzu on the table. Don't ask.) And, stay tuned for more updates. Maybe I'll have some Scrooge goin' on for next Thursday...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Binder Love

Remember shopping for school supplies- your school supplies? Remember getting a new Trapper Keeper? I do. I loved shopping for school supplies. I loved getting a new Trapper Keeper binder to organize and fill with paper. I still do!

This a rather blurry picture of (part) of my work table. It's where I sew and sketch and have deep thoughts. I do business related things here as well as family related things. 'Cause, let's face it , moms, running a house and family is A LOT of work. I, personally, have to be somewhat organized or all heck would break loose! What helps me stay organized are my binders. I have three binders that I turn to regularly. My gardening binder has, for the most part, been retired till next spring. My meal planning/grocery/recipe binder I touched on last week. The binder that keeps me sane is my Home & Business Binder.

I've been using this binder for close to four years now. It really helps me to keep my life in some kind of order. I'm not always faithful to it, but I try to be. The more I use it, make it a part of each day, the better off I am. I keep it simple. It is really just a series of lists. Because, if there's one thing I love more than binders, it's lists!

My binder is broken down like this:
1. Month-At-A-Glance Calender. I make my own, cheap and easy. I just use a sheet of lined paper, write the month at the top, number of days along the margin and a S,M,T,W,T,F,S so I know the day. I use this to write in must-know stuff; ie. doctor appts., no school or half days, craft shows, etc.

2. Daily "To-Do". Again, I make my own with lined paper. I write the day and date at the top of the page and I fill that section with each day of the current month. At the beginning of each week, I fill in meals (at the bottom), appts., etc. from my Month-At-A-Glance page, blog themes, laundry days, etc. Each morning, I sit down and make my list of things to do for that day. And each time I actually manage to accomplish something- I cross that baby off my list!

3-5. pertain to my art and business. I have a section for listing project ideas, finished product, goals, inventory. I can cross-off and add-to and make notes as I go. I have another section with show info. That's important to me for tax purposes and so I can compare notes with other shows. My last section has general business information in it. I keep everything from a mini-business plan to web-site and Etsy info. to names of suppliers and tax stuff.

I also have pockets for show apps. and info., receipts and pencils and business cards.

This binder helps me to keep my thoughts in order, keep track of important dates, ideas and information and helps me to see what I have accomplished and what I need to do. So, if you are looking for a way to better organize, run out to Target (any excuse to go to Target, eh, Danielle?) buy a binder, some dividers and some loose leaf paper. Make whatever sections make sense to you and your family or business needs. And try very hard to visit that binder regularly.

Now to cross "blog- Binder Love" off my list!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Happy Birthday, Momma!

That's right! It's my birthday!

My 40th birthday...

As in, I've been alive for forty years. (Really?!?)

Sorry about missing out on Saturday's post but my husband surprised me with an over-night trip to Livonia. You say, Livonia? What's in Livonia? Not too much but, what's near Livonia is Northville. And, what's in Northville was the Ghoultide Gathering. For a Halloween lover/artist like me, this was the perfect birthday weekend. Almost 24 hours just me and my man! I didn't have to cut up anyone's food. I didn't have to ask anyone if they had to go potty. I woke up all on my own. What a nice treat that was! Of course, we talked about the boys about 75% of the time. And we bought them gifts. And we talked to them on the phone. And we cut off our trip a little short so that we could have dinner with them. (I'll write more on the show another time.)

As for it being Momma Monday, I should be writing about Mom- things. Right? Like, how wonderful it is to hear your two year old say "Bert-date t'you, bert-date t'you". Or, how wonderful it is to get a birthday card from your seven year old with words of love written on it along-side a picture of you holding a gun watching father and son fight with lightsabers. I never got gifts like this before my boys. I know each year the gifts will change, mature, maybe make more sense and lighter on the violence. But I'll tell you what... I'll never forget these birthdays. And, I'll always be grateful to God for the best gifts ever- Nathanael and Asher.

(And that dream-boat of a husband is pretty awesome, too!)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Five for Friday

Fridays post will be a list of five... anything. Not necessarily in order. Just a list of five. Feel free to add your list of five... whatever in the comments below.

In honor of it being (finally) October 1st, today's list will be five reason why October is the best month of the year.

1. My birthday is in October. The 4th. Monday. I'll be forty. 40. So far, I'm okay with that. Any way, birthday= cake + presents. Woo! Hoo!

2. Halloween is in October. A chance to dress up. Candy. Spooky movies. Candy. Decorating for Halloween. Candy. FREE CANDY! Again, I say, Woo! Hoo!

3. Look at it outside- blue sky, gold, ruby and copper leaves, orange, white and pale-green pumpkins, crisp, white sunlight, ivory-pink moon- the colors of October are inspiring to say the least.

4. Cool air. I'm not a hot weather person. This is my time of year in the temperature department. The chilly breeze that you can feel as it passes through your lungs and keeps you cheeks pink. Bring on the sweaters!

5. Pumpkins. Not only their colors (as mentioned above) but also the way they feel- cold and hard, smooth and bumpy. I love their shape and the fact that you can make them into your own work of art. The seeds when roasted and salted are wonderful. And then there's pumpkin bread and pumpkin pie. I grew my own pumpkins this year and had the most fun watching them grow and change each day.

So there you have it. My ode to October. What is your favorite month?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Artsy-Crafty Thursday

Thursday posts will now be about what I am working on as far as my art and my slowly-but-surely growing business is concerned.

The easiest thing for me to do, to catch you up, is to refer you to my other blog that is dedicated to my fabric portraits and nothing else. So, I will! Go here and you can see all of my creations since May.

More recently, I just had a show in Charlotte, MI last weekend. It turned out to be a very good show for me. I got lots of great feed-back, some new ideas and I met some wonderful people. All in all, it was a good experience for me and affirmed that I am on the right path.

Currently, I am filling a good-sized order for a customer and I have begun work on my Christmas creations. So, as I get further into Christmas, I'll start showing you my works in progress.

Check out my other blog and keep an eye on the side-bar which I will up date with any projects in-the-works. And from here on out, I'll try to focus on something different that I'm working on each Thursday.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Thoughts and Things Tuesday

Tuesday's post are going to be about something I do or like or found or think that I want to share with you. Today's "Thing" will be menu planning.

Ooohh, exciting.

I know. But here's the thing. I'm a busy, stay-at-home mom, trying to build a business. Anything that will help me stay organized, save me money, save me time, insure that my family gets fed- well, I'm gonna jump on that!

A few months ago I found this blog through this blog. If you have the time and/or inclination check them out. Both are informative and offer great ideas. What attracted me most was the thought of being able to reduce my grocery budget. As I researched it, it seemed like it would take me more time but I decided to give it a try. If it didn't work for me I'd move on. Well, as you can guess, I love it. We are saving money/spending less and I am saving time.

So, here are my thoughts on menu planning:

1. Make a menu plan for a month at a time. I know that seems like a lot and it even seems like a waste of time. Trust me- it helps! Take a blank calendar page and fill in the meal (I just do dinner) for every day. After getting it figured out, it only takes me an hour to do the plan.

2. Make a list of recipes. I had separate pages for one-dish meals, main dishes and sides. Put everything down that your family eats, even if it is as simple as corn or pork chops or dinner rolls. When I do my meal plan I have my recipe list beside me. I t helps me to not have to think about it too hard :) and it helps me to insure variety in our meals.

3. Think pattern. I have a pattern that I stick to to help me fill in the planks on my calendar a little faster. For example, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, my husband works and doesn't eat with us. So, on Tuesday, I have something kid-friendly and on Thursday, I have leftovers. On Saturday nights, I choose a breakfast (pancakes and bacon) for the main meal. On Mondays, I choose a 1-dish meal. Etc.

4. Don't forget your family calendar. I sit down with my family calendar and fill in appointments, holidays, birthdays, etc. on my meal plan calendar so that I know if I need to fill in a special meal or if we won't even be home for dinner.

5. Think weekly and be specific. After you have your month figured out in general, you can get more specific with each week as it approaches. As in, what kind of vegetable, do you want bread, how will you cook the chicken...

6. Make your grocery list from your plan. I do it one week at a time. I look at my plan and check off all of the food that we have in the house. Then, whatever is left, I add to the grocery list. I try to be focused and organized (and fed) when I go to the grocery store. If not, look out checking account!

There you go! I know it seems like a lot but once you get started, each successive time gets easier and quicker. And, the bonus is... except for one hour a month, I don't have to think about "what's for dinner"! Yippee!!!

Give it a try. I started out doing it a week at a time. Then I spent one afternoon combing through cook books and recipe boxes. I keep everything in one binder that I refer to often. It has been a big help to me- not to mention the money we've been saving.

Let me know what you think, check out the blogs and comment with your money/time saving ideas in the "what's for dinner" department.

Monday, September 27, 2010

It's Momma Monday!

So, we'll keep this first post simple and I'll give you an update on home and family.

Asher. The most exciting part of my summer was Asher getting potty-trained! Amen!! After the way we started (My getting a horrible, anti-potty training flu) I was worried that I had missed the boat. Alas, I was wrong. It took almost two weeks of cold-turkey, potty training but that was it. Done! Again, Amen!!

Asher has also developed his collection of words. For the most part, I understand him. Every once in a while, I don't. Then he gets angry. Very angry. Never fear. A couple of hours later it usually dawns on meet just what he was trying to say. Asher is more than willing to pick up the conversation then. He sure does love to talk! Well, not just talk but have a conversation. Which means I have to pay attention. And, heaven forbid I misunderstand something. So angry...

Nathanael. He made it through the summer in pieces. What I mean by that is, he lost a whole bunch of teeth... all at once. He looks like a veteran ice hockey player. Sometimes, when he is talking to me, I find myself staring at his empty mouth, thinking, "how does he eat?". And, he has developed the cutest lisp. I've stopped giggling out loud now but it is still quite cute!

Nathanael is now in second grade and he has a male teacher. I was happy to find that out. However, his teacher is about 15. He is the first teacher that isn't older than me. That (and the fact that my hairdresser is only 20) bothers me more than turning forty in a week.

Garden. My bountiful garden is finally slowing down. I still get an absurd amount of tomatoes and I'm still getting lots of broccoli. It did good, though. I learned a lot and I find that I am looking forward to planning next years garden.

Chickens. Sadly, we had one chicken die. We don't know why, she just died. This happened just before they started to lay eggs. Then, we had two chickens stolen. By people. Bad people. Now, all is well. They are giving us beautiful, yummy, brown eggs. I've only gotten locked in the coop once. (My 2 1/2 year old super hero saved the day by finally getting his 7 year old super hero brother to understand what "Mama stuck" meant.) Dave got stuck in there yesterday- my parents saved him from a certain and unpleasant pecking. (The ladies like me better.)

That's it in a small nutshell. I've been busy with my art work but more on that on Thursday! I'm off to make my meal menu for October. I'll see you tomorrow (I'll be filling you in on the whole meal menu thing.) Enjoy your day!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Here's the plan...

I need structure and routine in my life. I function better, plain and simple. So, I'm going to try structuring my week as far as my blog is concerned. Hopefully I can be more faithful about posting. Someday I want to be able to look back on this, show my kids, show their kids... That's the plan.

Here are the specifics:

Mondays will be known as "Momma Monday"- these posts will be about home and family, my job as Momma.

Tuesdays will become "Thoughts and Things Tuesday"- a chance for me to share something new with you; something new to me or something I think or do or found that is new to you.

Wednesdays are post-free.

Thursdays will be known as "Artsy-Crafty Thursday"- this post will be for my art; a chance to update you on anything related to what I am working on.

Fridays are "Five for Friday"- simply put, a list of five...anything!

Saturdays will become "Summary Saturday"- I will post a review of something or someone on this day.

Sundays are post-free.

So, that's what I've come up with. I'm going to officially begin on Monday as I have a show this weekend. In the meantime, have a great week and I'll see you Monday!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Something new this way comes...

In other words, I have felt the need to give my blog a 'once-over' , if you will. I need to give it (therefore, me) more structure, more routine. That way, I hope to stick with it better. Be patient with me while I shake things up. Thanks!

Friday, August 27, 2010

This just in....

Go to this blog and check out the lovely post about me and my creepy, lil' portraits. Her name is Emma and she has quite a passion for fabric- something of which I understand and approve. Anyway, please take a look at the post and then take some time to visit her blog.


P.S. Here's a sneak-peek...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My Chickens...

...are doing beautifully!

They are getting big and they look like chickens now. And, they are laying eggs!!! We are up to five eggs a day now. Two more chicks to go! They are quite sweet and I can tell that they are 'attached' to me. That's kinda cool. I've gotten attached to them, too.

Greeting me in the coop.

Striking a pose. Isn't she pretty! Work it, Baby, the camera loves you!


Welcome to the Chicken Run.

Enjoy your day!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Rainy Saturday

As the title implies... it's raining. We need it. Everything looks so dry. The sun is great but it has been so intense lately that I appreciate the gray-ness.

What to do on a rainy Saturday?

Nathanael is being introduced to "Sinbad the Sailor"- the one with Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Maureen O'Hara. I think he is liking it. He looks mesmerized!

Asher is napping. I'm potty training him still and it is going real well. Any accidents tend to be more my fault than his. He has gotten pretty good at letting me know when he has to go potty. But only about 90% of the time. The other 10 % is me asking/reminding him. Sometimes I have the nerve to relax- let my potty-guard down. I end up paying the price. We're getting there. I can see a light at the end of this particular tunnel!

As for me... I'm doing laundry, of course. And I've been sewing. I've been working on an 'ode' to the painting American Gothic, using Halloween themes. This current piece is a couple of skeletons- "Mr. and Mrs. Bones". I have also been working on a few small framed portraits and Halloween masks. The ideas are a-flowin'! Now, I am going to take a break and have lunch. Yesterday I started reading "Auntie Mame" - hysterical! I love the movie (Rosalind Russel) , but haven't seen it in many years. So, I think I'll curl up with my book and some lunch and, as Depeche Mode put it, "enjoy the silence".

Enjoy your day!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

A day at the Art Fair...

In Grand Ledge, Michigan, there is a long, narrow, pretty island in the middle of the Grand River. And, on the first Saturday of August, there is an Art Fair held on this little island. It is called, appropriately enough, the Island Art Fair. And I was in it!

On Friday, my father, my niece and I went to set up my tent in the same location I've been in the two years before. It is a lovely spot!

Here is my 'spot'.

Here is my stuff.

Here is my view.

Set-up went well. The tent looked quite festive and creepy once everything was put up and out. It was a successful show and I came away with a lot of great compliments and a lot of new fans.

Now I'm back to frantically sketching, stitching and creating! (Of course, after I clean, do laundry, garden and dole out some love for the chickens.) Enjoy your week!
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