Monday, December 22, 2008

Busy with holiday chaos but I thought I'd throw up Part II of the ball exhibit pics. A reader and spokesperson for Seaport Village, Boardwalk Betty, was kind enough to let me know that this is actually part of a traveling exhibit called Cool Globes: Hot Ideas for a Cooler Planet.

I only got to see a small fraction of the globes but this was one of my favorite of the ones I did see.

This one with a rainforest canopy was beautiful.

There's a small park peninsula that juts out from the shop area. I've never actually managed to walk out there, usually because we run out of time. This day was no different. But I wish I could have seen all the balls that circled the walkway.

Here we are walking by the beginning of that area..... sigh.

I think I'll have to say this one was my personal fave, although it wasn't very globe shaped once the artist finished with it. But what's not to love about a vegetable man! It reminds me of Giuseppe Arcimboldo's strange portraits of flower and vegetable people. Joli was fascinated with him.

And since we love our vegetables, we had to give him kisses. I think Joli threw in a hug as well.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I told someone a few weeks back that I felt like knitting something and they responded "Oh, so it's cold up there?" Meaning, they were someplace warm and they assumed that since I had the knitting urge, it must mean that cold weather was upon us up here in the mountains. If I recall it was still unseasonable warm and dry at the time and the question startled me, until I remembered how often I'd told people that cold weather always brought out the knitter in me.

That's not to say that I've had time to knit anything and I probably won't be able to until after the holidays are past. I have sewing projects planned and with the unexpected time spent with plumbing and shoveling tasks, it's beginning to look a bit iffy that I'll even get those accomplished. We'll see.

But I still have the urge to knit. I have the urge to knit something specific. Handwarmers. I want to knit some handwarmers. I'm wearing some big oversized handwarmers right now. I didn't knit them. I found them at the thrift store this summer. I think they might have been meant to be legwarmers but I've worn them several times as hand - well, ARM warmers and I really like how they warm me up without making me feel like I'm wrapped up in a bulky sweater. They're nice with just a scarf for running errands or for puttering around the house where I'm active enough not to be too cold but my hands, which are moving through the cold air, are chilly, or for tasks where I'm sitting down but need my hands free of a blanket, like right now when I'm typing on my laptop.

I've looked at patterns online a couple of times recently and tonight I found what I want to make. I've found not one but two patterns. There's lots of variations in size, length, where these things sit on one's sleeve. I've heard them called lots of names. Wrist warmers. Fingerless mittens. Gauntlets. Glovelets. Wristlets. Cuffs.

The first is what I'd call hand warmers but the pattern maker calls them Ravenclaw Wrist Warmers. (scroll down on her page to see more photos of them being worn) Since Ravenclaws would undoubtedly spend a lot of snowy winter nights up in their tower reading, these would be the perfect thing to keep warm when they're turning pages. I need some for my late night reading habits. She doesn't give a pattern but I think I could probably figure out how to make these from a similar pattern and my own experimenting. I've already got a Gryffindor scarf. Have you seen it? I'm wearing it in a photo I put up in a post on Beach Treasure today.

The other isn't exactly a handwarmer but would be warm, as it covers up a pulse spot, plus they are adorable! The pattern maker calls these Mrs. Beetons. Aren't they wonderful!? (did you go look? Go. Look. I'll wait.) I can picture wearing these with my jackets when I'm out and about town or on top of a long sleeved shirt or under a sweater sleeve. I think I need them in several different colors.

Only problem is that the pattern is a bit intimidating. I don't think it's probably terribly difficult to knit. It's just reading the pattern that is hard. Maybe, like other patterns I've tackled, once I start the project it will start to make more sense. The beading is another complication but I've seen the technique shown on Knitty Gritty and it didn't look too hard. Now, to remember how they did it. Maybe I can find an online how-to video.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

We've had snow for several days and more in the forecast. I'd be a lot happier about this gift from Father Winter if it wasn't for the fact that we're struggling with sewer line issues and the snow and bitter cold temperatures are making the problem exponentially more complicated. But, when life gives you lemonade.... or other yellow liquids (okay, that was really bad)... make.... uhm... okay, I didn't realize that would complicate the rest of the saying. How 'bout "Make the best of things."

So yesterday, when we had a break between storms and the sky was cold and blue and my nose was frozen and red and the snow was sparkling and white (very patriotic!), I decided to tromp around the neighborhood and take photos instead of cleaning or sewing or wrapping or any of the million of other tasks that are calling my name. Carpe Diem, as they say.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

My mom, Barb, doesn't have a blog so she sent me some photos of the Magical Yule Swap package she received so I could put them up here. Her box was from Sarah.

She received this wondrous Winter Queen doll. Isn't she marvelous!? My mom was over the moon in love with her. In fact the conversation on the phone went something like this:

"Oh, you'll never believe what I got in my box! She's perfect! And she's mine. Not yours! Nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah!" LOLOL!

She's hand sewn and hand painted. Here's a close up of her face. I love the fur scarf and her sparkly crown and the serene, cold look on her face. It's exactly the sort of expression you'd expect a winter queen to wear, don't you think?

Here's her middle. She'd clutching a tiny hand painted painting.

Here's the painting. Looks like she's friends with the head jolly ol' elf himself. Perhaps she's just coming from a portrait sitting of him? Do you think he commissioned a painting of the Missus as well?

And her feet. I love her painted shoes. Is that green paint sparkling? Or is it just catching the flash? I bet she's even more lovely in person. It's been a few years since I've been to see my mom in Colorado. Perhaps next summer. I'm sure she'll still have her out on display. No, really. My mom has her St. Nicholas dolls out all year round.

Lastly, she also received these gold painted floating candles which my mom waxed (oooh, pun!) on about for awhile, remembering candles such as these her mother had when she was a child.

If you click on the links in the sidebar of the rest of the participants, I think everyone has posted a photo of all of the projects, both made and received. Make sure to check them out as all the creations were so fantastic. I can hardly wait to do it all again next year!

Monday, December 15, 2008

I also received my box in the mail from my partner, Meo. Unfortunately she didn't supply me with an online link so I can't steer you to her "home on the web". I know her through a faery tribe group.

Since this was a Magical Yule Swap, I magically received a box that was just perfect for me! Instead of a decoration, I got an "experience" in a box - everything I need to feel warm and pampered on a cold Yule night. Or, any winter night! Click to enlarge the photo.

The homemade portion was not one but TWO new heating pads made out of a beautiful satiny dragonfly print. Meo, did you know how much I love dragonflies? And, I can't quite figure out what it's filled with - not rice, not flax. What is it!? It doesn't have the strong cereal smell of a regular heated pad. I made a bunch of flax pads years and years ago but Hubby and kids have spirited away most of them . I was down to one for my personal use and I was just thinking that I should make myself a couple more - so I didn't have to choose between warming my feet or my back or some other part of me. Now I don't have to and I can be warm and toasty all over.

Along with the heating pads, she also included a package of pumpkin scone mix, a package of chocolate chip cookie mix, hot cider and hot cocoa packages and a tin of tea from one of my favorite tea companies. (I haven't tried this one yet) To finish off the cozy mood there are two lightly scented candles to brighten the darkness. Whew! I have to admit I feel a bit guilty at all that bounty! But, not so guilty that I won't completely enjoy every warm, bright, delicious moment. Thank you Meo, I love my box.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I sent to Sarah in the Magical Yule Swap. Now that she's received my box I'm excited to show folks my little wintery creation. I had a few different themes fighting to be included - forest, faery, sparkly.

A couple of winter faeries, with the help of a little feathered friend, used ice and snow to decorate a tiny tree. I like how the real sun is peeking out behind the sun atop the tree.

This little fae is Snowflake.

Her icy friend is Crystal. Unfortunately I forgot to take any photos that show their snowflake caps.

Even their powdery white friend has a snowflake cap.

They've covered the tree with glittery, icy, snowy decorations created from nature all around them. (If it wasn't representative of nature as it was all around me at the time I worked on this project, it certainly reflects how my nature is looking NOW!)

And of course since this is a Yule tree, it's topped with a glittery sun to help light the way through the longest winter night.

If you want to see more photos, you can see them on Sarah's post.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

One ribbon

Many ribbons!

It's time for me to magically turn my one ribbon into many ribbons. Meaning, I have only one (or two) holiday tasks completed and I have to add many, many more ribbons (tasks) to the "jar of holiday fun". Or, maybe it's the other way around. I just came back from a week away to see my house looking more like the Many Ribbons photo and I need to clean it up and get it decorated with one pretty seasonal ribbon? Okay, so maybe I just wanted to show you two pretty ribbon photos that may or may not work well as an analogy for my life at the moment.

If you are clicking in on the Magical Yule Swap progress, I have heard back from all swappers that they received their packages. And because it is a magical swap, everyone seems to have gotten a gift they love. Including me. I finally got to open my box last night. I'm sorry Meo, I'm sooooo swamped, I'm gonna ask you to wait a wee bit longer before I gush over how perfect it was for ME. I also have to put off adding assorted photos and comments from others I want to share. ALL THIS will have to wait until later, hopefully just 'til tonight, because I got home last night and I need to jump into my busy life and start dealing with tasks that stretch to the horizon and beyond!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A few days ago us girls (my daughter-in-law, granddaughter and I) went to Seaport Village in San Diego to walk around and have some lunch. They were having a display of balls - GIANT balls. I'm not sure what the official title of the show was but let's call it Big Balls with a Green Theme. Each taller-than-a-person ball was a piece of art with an ecological or environmental message. Each had a small plaque so you could read about it although with a two year old, we didn't get a chance to read them.

I think this one was about different types of forests.

A reminder to grow organic.

This looks like a baseball but the autographs are reminders of ways to reduce energy use.

This one reminded me of a Mad Maxx satellite.

These are a regular site in front of a kite shop but still fun and colorful. I took photos of more balls but I don't have time to upload them tonight. Gotta get some sleep so I can get on the road for a long drive back to northern California tomorrow. Sigh. So consider this Part One. Stay tuned...
Now that I've gifted it, I can show you another project I finished recently, a photo book. When we were in Paris I loved all the carousels around the city and I photographed as many of them as we could find because I knew how much Joli loves to ride carousels. I thought I'd make her up a little handmade book. Instead I took advantage of a discounted offer through one of the online photo sites for a professionally made books but I still took the photos, designed the layout and wrote the text. It ended up taking exponentially more time than I had expected it to take due to a cascade of computer problems and issues with the company that, since they were resolved to my satisfaction (although only after many hours of e-mails - ARGH) I won't mention which company.

They also forgot to add the book title. Grrr.

But the rest of the pages turned out really nice. Now that all the arguing and frustration is behind me, I'm happy with it.

It couldn't compete with the immediate gratification of a Little Mermaid doll or a new tube of strawberry flavored chapstick, but I think once the glamour of a pile of new birthday gifts fades away, she'll enjoy looking at it.

She likes books a lot when there's not so much excitement in the house.

My fantasy is that someday I can take her to ride on the carousels themselves.

The French kids we saw were all so adorable, I'm sure Joli will look like a wee Parisienne right from the start.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Sorry I haven't posted since last week. Last minute (and I mean seriously last minute!), I packed a bag and drove twelve hours and here I am in San Diego visiting my sister, my daughter-in-law, and my granddaughter. My sister flew in from Ohio for a conference and I had this twelfth hour "DUH" realization that it's a lot easier to travel here to see her than to fly back to Ohio. So, not a lot of time online. But tonight is a quiet night. Lisa is decorating the tree with a lot of "help" from a newly minted two year old (her birthday was on Saturday).

I managed a stop at one of my favorite places down here, Summers Past Herb Farm. I wandered about the gardens for a bit and visited their soap shop and their big barn full of lovely things to buy. I indulged myself practically with some of my favorite scented bath and hand soaps and some jalapeno jelly.

They have a lot of faery supplies (as they have a faery festival for wee faeries each year) and they had this gorgeous faery tree sparkling in the barn. Isn't it wondrous! You can click to make the image larger.

I brought a small box of craft supplies down with me to fill in any down time but somehow I managed to forget several key supplies. Not a big surprise since I decided to go, packed, and was on the road in less than an hour. So, I went to Joanns yesterday.

I got bored waiting in line for my fabric to be cut so I took pictures of all the pretty colors.

More pretty colors. I only bought one spool of thread (brown), but I did get to pick out some colored embroidery thread and some really colorful yarn which you can see below.

Here's what I made today, a wee, rainbow rasta-haired faery for Joli. She picked out her own colors. The pattern is really meant for 3+ so I tweaked it a bit to secure the pieces more securely and Lisa can let her play with it when she's watching her until she's a bit older. I should have remembered to take a photo of it in the daylight but, oh well. You can still get an idea. Oh, and I totally spaced on how to make french knots. Seriously. I know they're easier than tying your shoelace, but for the life of me I couldn't remember. ARGH.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

My Magical Yule gift is in the mail! I sent it by Owl Post so it might take awhile. But it's winging it's way to London at this very moment. Barb's gift to Chris is also sent and won't take the owl nearly as long as it's not as far a distance. I can hardly wait for folks to receive things so I can post photos of them here (my mom, Barb, not having a blog, asked if I'd post her pics here as well).

That's the problem with this month. I'm likely the busiest in my studio that I'll be all year but because everything I'm making is a surprise, I have no photos to share until after the new year. ARGH. It's hard not to share. I get so excited.

So, since I can't share new photos, I'll share some old ones once again. And try to make some sort of segue from the Yule Swap into them.

I wander museums for my own pleasure so unless I'm already familiar with an artist, I don't always remember who did what. I liked this sculpture though in the Musee d'Orsay. Like my Yule swap creation it uses a lot of white (although mine is more sparkly!) and has some smiling, celebrating faces in it. That's pretty much where the similarities end. I'm guessing this took a lot longer to make than my piece. (Duh, yathink!?) Also, mine isn't as large. Or as heavy. Which is a good thing, considering shipping costs.

Again, can't tell you who the artist is - some one famous I'm guessing as it's also hanging in the Musee d' Orsay. This is a small section of a larger painting and I like the quiet, unexpected moment that's captured. That's a Yule stag, of course. In fact, it sort of looks like a reindeer, now that I take a second look. Is it leaping? Or is it flying..........? Boy, I'm being silly tonight.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Despite rain, sleet, hail, and snow, I finally finished my Magical Yule Swap! Yay me!

What? You say the weather has been quite pleasant and sunny in the northern Sierras lately? Uhm. Well. Look! Look at the photo! See! There IS snow!

Okay, so that's not real snow but a wee peek at my creation.

Here's what it really looked like outside. I mean, similar to this. No? Okay, so this is another peek.

I'm really happy with the way it came out. It's a little.... er.... homemade crooked looking, but I sort of wish I could keep it for myself so it must be at least a little bit cute.

I do have excuses for coming in at the tail end of everyone for completing my project however. But they're whiny and involve a teenager and driving around looking for said teen and ridiculous arguments that go round and round in circles and .... I'll save you the angst. It's bad enough I have to deal with it (and this is the last of five teens in the family. You'd really think he would have figured out that some of this crap isn't gonna fly) without making you all suffer along with me.

So, moving on. My project is done. I won't box it up until tomorrow so I can take some photos in better light. But I'll have it in the mail tomorrow. And happily, I'm the black sheep in an otherwise amazingly on time flock of friends - gawd, I love you swappers! Everyone has checked in and are ready to go postal. Uhm, I mean are ready to go to the post office.

I wrote everyone down, cut you all out, and pulled you out of a hat. Here is our little circle. You'll send deosil.

For those of you who don't know what that means, it means clockwise. It also means to go "in the direction of the sun", which I thought was very appropriate as we're going towards Yule. I also thought it was neat that our little group ended up having six sides, just like a wintery snowflake!

So, go check your mailboxes. I'm off to send addresses.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Did you all have a lovely food filled Thanksgiving holiday? I did. Lots of family, including a half dozen grandkids all descended upon our tiny homestead, so it was also exhausting. Everyone left today and so I finally have a chance to check in with everyone.

I've heard from everyone but Meo and Barbara in the Magical Yule Swap. I popped an e-mail in the mail... er in the net?... to both of them asking for an update. And I bought glue. Lots of glue. So the plan tomorrow is to finish up the last little details of my own project and get it ready to mail. Hopefully I'll hear back by tomorrow from the other two stragglers and I'll be able to send everyone an address by the 2nd. Everyone join in and clap and repeat after me "I do believe in deadlines!.... I do believe in deadlines!.... I do believe in deadlines!" Hey, it might help.

And now I'm off to make a hot chocolate. Or maybe an eggnog. And recuperate from all the family fun. Did I mention the SIX grandchildren who showed up for Thanksgiving? Perhaps I'll make that an alcoholically enhanced eggnog.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

In honor of Thanksgiving, some Turkey Art. I actually took this photo for my friend Deirdre, who often tells tales of her yard turkeys. I don't think Hubby thought through the possibilities for humor when I asked him to pose with a bunch of turkeys. Hehe.

Claude Monet - Musee d' Orsay, Paris

Still no photos of my Magical Yule Swap creation although I did manage to purchase the lithium batteries for the camera when I was out and about gathering the Thanksgiving supplies yesterday. I haven't put the batteries IN the camera yet. I have, however, worked on my pretty little project.

I'm really happy with the way it's evolving. I wasn't sure exactly what it would become when I started it. I began with just the center idea without knowing where it would go from there and I've left random puttering and treasure finds and stumbled upon "what if's" and a few scary "Should I? Why not! Go for it!"'s be in charge. A much different approach then my usual pre-thought out and thoroughly sketched plan.

I've allowed myself this muse led style a few times before and each time, once I got over not being in charge of things, I've been really happy with both the process and the results. It takes the pressure off for the creation in the world to match the creation in my head (which sometimes is possible but sometimes not), reducing my expectations and allowing for the freedom of following unexpected directions. It's not that working from a more structured game plan is a bad thing, it's just different. Sort of like the difference between a vacation with a full itinerary and reservations made and the holiday that starts with a vague longing to head west, a full tank of gas, and a bag packed for any possibility.

Although I don't have any photos I can give you a hint. Glitter. Sparkle. Frosty bling. Maybe that's three hints. I just couldn't resist. Last night I worked on it again and now all the components are completed and gathered together. All that's left is putting it together. Which requires glue. Which I was surprised to find I don't have. I'd forgotten that my last project required reconstituting some old, gloppy Elmers. I think my daughter-in-law polished off the last of it when she was up here at Halloween making her handmade invitations. So. I'll be putting it all together at the last minute, after the Thanksgiving hordes have gone back home. They're on their way here as I type, getting closer and closer even as I waste precious minutes blogging that I should be spending on last minute vacuuming and bed rearranging.

Sarah from Circles of Rain has announced her swap piece complete. Yah! Barbara of Under Six Gables and Meo are left. Well, and me - Glueless in Susanville. No pressure, there's still over a half week left of the month - just checking in to see how things are going.

And now I'm off to do that vacuuming. Or better yet, delegate the vacuuming to Hubby or Teen and do some child proofing tasks before the wee monkeys arrive. I hope you all have a lovely Thanksgiving or, if you don't celebrate Thanksgiving, then have an equally lovely, thankful, ordinary day.

Monday, November 24, 2008

I finally committed to one of my ideas and started on my Magical Yule Swap piece a few nights ago. I'm about 30% to 50% along, depending on how far I want to take it. I'm happy with the way it's coming out. I had to stop as I ran out of a key component. About the only place in town to find any art supplies is Walmart and I went last night and found something that will work.

(Momentary aside - how can someone go to buy ONE BEAD and come out of the store $38 poorer!? No, I didn't spend $38 on one bead. There were other pretty, shiny beads hanging near the bead I needed. And I was hanging out there, talking to my daughter-in-law on my cell phone, staring at all those pretty beads and some of the packages somehow found their way into my shopping cart. And then, since I was in the craft department, I found some fabric that would be perfect for a project for my Hubby even though I have plenty of perfect fabric already at home. And wandering over into the holiday department I found some other little bits and bobs that might add even more fun to my swap project. And then there were the special holiday Oreos with peppermint filling......)

I'll be working on my project again today and then I have to set it aside for the fun and chaos that is family visiting for Thanksgiving. If I have anything left to finish, it won't be much and I'll have two calendar days after everyone departs again for any last minute touches. So, I'll feeling pretty good about it.

I'd give you a little sneak photo of what I'm making but unfortunately I also needed to buy lithium batteries for my camera while I was at Walmart and I forgot. So. Instead I can give you a sneak peek of my mom Barb's project, as she sent me some images. I think it's looking pretty wintery and magical!

So, how's everyone else doing? ( I heard from Chris at Prism's Trail! that she's finished already. Yah! And also - Show off! So, some of us aren't organized. So! Your point? Phhbt!)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I've grounded myself from my regular blog until I get some work done around the house and studio, but I didn't say I couldn't blog here. I know, sort of cheating. But I was very proud of how much work I got done yesterday even if I got a late start at it. It wasn't studio work, sigh, only housework. But still, big improvement - many heaps and piles are no more.

We lost one of our Yule Swappers, Midwest Fibre Arts, who was waylaid by the busyness of life. Sniff. Well, I knew that would happen. I really should have run this swap months ago as the last two months of the year are the crazy season for most people. Next year I'll plan ahead and hostess a holiday swap that's earlier and more organized. Millions will join. And our small group from this year can feel smug and special because we weathered out the storms and difficulties of this first year's swap, just the few of us banded together. We're like the Fellowship of the Ring. The Goonies. The little band of misfits following Rudolph in the old claymation special.

I also talked to Barb, my mom, on the phone last night. She already knows what she's making for the swap but we tossed ideas back and forth on how to tweak it, to make it an even more special gift. I can hardly wait to see how it turns out. In my head, it's lovely!

I've narrowed my idea down to .... well, I think I've chosen my idea in the general sense. I'm going to make some small pieces so that the project is both portable to work on and easy to ship. I didn't take shipping into consideration last swap I did - it all worked out in the end but I realized that if I'd thought it through I could have made it a lot easier on myself and still sent something really nice. After gluing it nice and tight, I ended up having to dismantle one piece to safely ship it - argh.

What I haven't decided yet is how the little pieces will fit together, if at all? In a wee vignette? Or maybe just individual teenies to be used however the recipient so chooses.

That's all. I swore next time I posted here I'd have some studio pics. Maybe by tomorrow. But I'll give you some photos, for your viewing enjoyment. A post just doesn't seem complete without something visual. I've been in a Paris sort of mood lately, so I'll share a few random Paris trip photos.

These first two photos are from the collection at the Musee d' Orsay. Not holiday-ish, but definitely have a fantasy element going on. I don't have details on the artist or time period, sorry. I love how this one looks like he was working from a model. Hmmmm.... there are more things in heaven and earth than...

This guy looks a little grumpy. (I also think he looks like Gollum from LOTR) Like, the world is annoying and if it wasn't for his friend/pet frog, he would be glummer still. I can relate. I've been feeling a bit like that lately. So has Hubby. So has the Teenager. We've been taking turns being a bit stompy and easily annoyed. I think for Hubby and I it's just the stress of the economy, life coming at us too fast. For William it's the end of a long stretch of nonstop work, school and football commitments. (Only one week or two left, depending on whether they win the next play off game, before things get a lot easier for him. And a bit easier for us too, no more football traveling.) For all of us add in an autumn package of cold and flu visitors. I don't have a pet frog, but I do have a wee fuzzy dog that loves me even when I'm less than loveable.

Changing moods completely, isn't this just the most adorable little angel you've ever seen!? With her rosy cheeks and curly hair, she reminds me a wee bit of my granddaughter. Although the granddaughter's white gown would probably be covered in jelly, dry erase marker, and dirt and her wings would be a bit askew. This was a sign outside a little angel shop in... Montmartre I believe... and the owner of the shop was very kind to allow me to snap this photo. I wish I could remember the name of the shop as she had cards and other items with this image on it for sale inside and now that I'm thousands of miles away, I want to buy something.

Anyone know what the words on the sign say?