Thursday, December 31, 2009

Doodling with Joli. She's studying my additions to her artwork.

"Hey, he's drinking a cup of tea. No. That's cahhhh-fee!"

A lady monster and a spider with chubby legs.

A blue full moon for New Year's Eve.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Remember when I said I was going to make something for everyone this year but I was running out of time and Hubby suggested I give everyone a stick. No? Well, maybe I said it somewhere else... Facebook probably.

"A stick?" I replied.

"Yes. A stick. Wrap some yarn around it and tell them it's a magic stick."

Several members of the family asked, somewhat apprehensively "Are you really going to give me a stick?"

Well, you know I couldn't let an opportunity like that pass me by.

So I gathered some sticks. Special sticks from our fallen apple tree I'll have you know. Bought some embroidery yarn. I went with all the Hogwart house colors. Remembered them all except for Hufflepuff. I had to call and have someone look up Hufflepuff house colors.

Et voilà! Magic sticks!

I let William pick first - I knew he'd choose Slytherin.

Joe selected Gryffindor (of course) and industrious Lisa wanted Hufflepuff. Ravenclaw was left for Hubby. Looks like there's already some spell play going on there.

Of course they also received a few more non-stick gifts. I ran out of wrapping paper so I improvised with cardboard and paper bags and paper and markers. I even turned the bag handles into a bow. I rather liked the results.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I finally managed to put up a few decorations. We won't be home for Yule or Christmas, so a little will do. And looked just as festive in the end, if I do say so myself. Without hours of taking down to anticipate.

A friend made me these beautiful Yule faery wings last year. They looked happiest in the window.

And I finally broke down and bought a tiny colored tree. I was going to go get the black one with red lights, but they were sold out. So I chose the other color that called to me. Maybe not the perfect match for my living room, but the red pulled it together and I can use it in another room next year maybe.

I just pulled out a few ornaments, not many at all. The red pom pom garland and the old stole fur was from the fabric stash.

Small but pretty!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Our local Walmart has completely recreated itself. Trust me, if I lived anywhere else, I wouldn't even SHOP at Walmart. But we live one hundred miles from anywhere in any direction and we have limited shopping options in our community. We have Walmart. Or .... Walmart. And then there's always ..... Walmart.

They've been painting, tiling, and dismantling departments for months. I was out of town for the first week in November and I came home to discover the final reshuffling had been done and the phoenix, what there is if it, had been reborn.

I hate it. Everyone hates it. Even the Walmart employees hate it. It takes triple the time to shop because no one knows where ANYTHING is. It's like shopping in a maze. If you ask an employee where the tea pots are or even, where the housewares department is, they stand there with a puzzled look on their face, scanning the difficult-to-see new signs hanging from the ceiling. I don't blame them. I can't figure it out either. They're doing the best that they can.

Although yesterday I reached the end of my patience. We asked an employee, a young man, standing in the hardware department (which took us two circles round the store to find in the first place) where the foam insulation for pipes was located. He turned around in a circle several times himself and then waved his arm vaguely in one direction, flinging it the other direction once just to cover himself in case he was wrong, and said "Over there somewhere." And then he started to walk away.

Using my most potent mom voice I calmly, icily intoned "Stop! That is not a helpful response. Go find me someone who knows where it is." He stopped. He picked up a nearby phone. He called for help. No one arrived. I assume the person asked to come to my aide is still wandering around hopelessing searching for the hardware department.

There used to be a shoe department. Now the shoes are everywhere. There are women's shoes mixed in with women's clothing, children's shoes elsewhere near children's socks (which aren't, of course, near adult socks), men's shoes near... you get the idea here. Boots of any size are somewhere else again. Design by buckshot pattern.

There are wide new aisles. That's because they are now carrying about a third of the previous stock. Yes, there are more frozen food items and a lot more electronic items. But there's less of everything else. There used to be a office/school supply department. Now it's just one short aisle. There used to be a card dept., now..... y'know, I have yet to even see any cards. But most dramatically changed, they used to have a huge craft and fabric department. Now they have two tiny aisles. One short row of fabrics with another pile they've been forced to stack horizontally so you can't really handle it without the whole thing toppling down. Gone is... I'd guess 80% of everything.

In a town with no Michael's, no Joann's, not even a Ben Franklin or local quilt shop, this is a BIG THING. No, wait, we do have a dollar store, and you can sometimes find craft supplies there, but still. It's a big change.

Fortunately, I'm long past my stash gathering era, now embracing the downhill slide of stash BUSTING. But that doesn't mean I don't need supplies now and then. Stash busting means you choose to use what you already have in your supplies as the base for your creative projects, but that also implies that you are making things and will need to restock basics like glue, wire, dowels, pins, interfacing....

I know, think ahead. Restock when I'm traveling out of town. And of course, order online. Good ideas. But not very helpful for a spontaneous type like myself who decides to make something at ten o'clock the night before I need it done, or during a week of icy winter roads or maxed out schedules.

So..... uhm..... do I have a point here? No. I was just whining. Would you like a holiday cheese ball to go with it? I could go back to Walmart, spend a couple hours wandering about in search of the refrigerated section, and see if I could get you one?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

I haven't posted in a few days. You would assume, from past conversations, that it was because I was so busy making art and crafty things that I didn't have time to post. Furthermore you would assume that most of the things I was making were for gift giving so I wouldn't be able to post and show you any of it until after it was gifted.



I wish this was true. It is not.

There were eighteen people on my gift list. I have made one gift. One. Uno. Une. Ein. ONE. This particular gift was to have two (two, dos, deux, zwei, TWO) components to it. I made one part. I started two other gifts but they're not finished yet. I have four days left before we start our holiday travel circuit. Four days to finish seventeen gifts, wrap gifts, pack, do laundry, clean, decorate, shovel snow, make fires, sleep, eat, take a few showers.


*Laume wipes tears of hysterical laughter from her eyes*

I'm actually okay with it. I've been letting my guilt and disappointment slip away, little by little, over the last few weeks. I had choices, choices between making gifts and experiencing holiday and/or family experiences. I chose the experiences.

I still want to make gifts. I have lots of great ideas swirling in my head. I'll keep working on them. Hopefully I'll be finished with them in time for next year's holidays!

But for this year, it's time to move on to Plan B. Which is..... uhm..... I'm not sure yet. I know what it's not. It's not to try to "make up for it" by going out and spending a wad of money on stuff I have no idea whether anyone will like or not like. I have a couple of days to finish up a few more things, and as long as the kids have something fun to open up, frankly I doubt they care whether it's handmade or storebought. They might care some time in the far future, looking back. But that gives me plenty of opportunities to make those memories in the years to come.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Warm. That was the plan for the day. Just to keep warm. I had to run errands in the afternoon. It was a balmy 9º on the time/temperature sign on Main Street. It's -9º now.

So you can imagine my excitement when I came home to find our espresso machine returned to us. I had no idea how much I missed it until it was gone. The company (Saeco) was really great about repairing it. I was just about to check and make sure that it had arrived at their company and there it was, fixed and back on my doorstep!

And making even more delicious espresso. So tonight's plan - a rocking chair by the fire, my knitting, and my chocolate sprinkled cappuccino. Warm.

(For some cold photos, Beach Treasure.)

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

This was in the free box at the thrift shop last week. With the cool icy blue and the bare trees and birds, I thought it looked very wintery. Turns out it's from the 1950's, a company called Lucent Dinnerware, this style was called Evening Song.

Not sure if I showed you this pretty tea pot I bought a few weeks ago. I think I spent $2. I think originally the gold covered the entire handle and spout. But I like it the way it is now, shabby and aged. It must have poured many a pot of tea, it must have hundreds of stories.

And now it can pour many more pots of tea for me.

It's been beyond cold the last few days. Almost as cold as I've ever known it here. Right now it's -9ºF outside. Hopefully this is as cold as it gets. BRRRRRR!

A good day to keep busy doing warm things inside. I've had the fire going all evening. Made a hot pot of split pea soup and hot apple rhubarb cobbler. Hot tea of course, as well as hot coffee. I might make it a triple play with a cup of hot cocoa to take to bed in a few minutes.

Ironing is a good warm activity, especially when I drag the board out to stand near the fire. Found some fabrics that I think will work really well for a project I'm starting. Being that time of year, I can't really say much more about that until after the holidays. Wink wink.

Anyone else up to any elf activities? You can tell me, no one you know will follow you to my comment box!

For some sparkly snow pics, Beach Treasure.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Apologizing for not posting is becoming an annoying habit. So I won't. I'll just jump back in -

I appreciate all the sympathies and good advice about my decorating reflections and woes in my last post. Friends commented here, privately, and over on my Facebook page. Nothing I didn't already know, but it's always hard to give oneself the same advice you'd easily pull out and hand to someone else. I'm going to just decorate for my own pleasure, as little or as much as I want, and not feel guilty if I don't pull out all the stops in this transitory year.

The next question becomes, what do I want to decorate? How do I want to decorate? If I want to make a big impact, I should pick a style and go with it. Colorful fun retro? Paris shabby chic? Velvety Dicken's Victorian? Botanical and foresty? White and glittery frosty? Golden Yule? Whimsical pastels or Faery Bling?

I've been wandering through stores and surfing through the internet in search of inspiration, to see what calls to me this year. Unfortunately, nothing is the obvious favorite. I love it all. But I only have one house, a few rooms, so I can't do it all.

The other night I caught a show on HGTV - 25 Great Holiday Ideas. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the show, and there were some cute ideas. But honestly, there was nothing there that I hadn't seen done before, and often better, by all the creative bloggers I've visited over the years. Just thought you all should know how AMAZING you all are. You're definitely the best place to go for my own inspirations.

Of course when it comes down to it, if I manage to decorate at all, it will undoubtedly be with a hodge podge of things I already own. Not a problem, since I have far too many boxes. It'll be like shopping in my garage, only without a checkbook, and with mittens and gloves.

Instead of the big tree, I might just put up my smaller teddy bear tree. I haven't had it up for a number of years because I got tired of the younger cats knocking it down. Now that the cats are older and fatter, maybe they'll leave it alone. Ditto on my tree collection. I could put up my winter forest again, maybe add a few faeries. Set up a Yule altar. Bring out my holiday dishware. And gather a bunch of candles on the mantle. That seems doable.

And now, instead of spending the afternoon searching for accompanying photos, I'm gonna wrap this up and go start the holiday clean up in the studio. I just realized (a long held holiday tradtion, misjudging how soon everything has to be done!) that the month I thought I had to "whip this all up" is truly only a couple of weeks.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

For a number of years now I've thought Halloween/Samhain/Dia de Los Muertos was going to end up being a no family, quiet affair only to have family and visitors and fun all fall into place at the last minute. That happens a lot and I've come to depend on a "wait and see" attitude towards the way I want holidays or events or trips or even just afternoons to progress. Things usually have a way of coming together in the end if I do what I can to nudge things along and keep an open-to-possibilities attitude. Sometimes what comes together is what I wanted all along, sometimes it's something new and wondrous that I couldn't have experienced if I'd tried to plan it because it's not anything I could have thought to plan.

This year, again, it seemed like no one was going to visit and as October progressed I decided to stop fretting and simply enjoy each holiday activity for it's own pleasure, whether I shared that pleasure with others or for myself alone - whether it was the first cup of pumpkin spice tea or a walk under colorful fall foliage - and not worry too far ahead about the holidays themselves. I reminded myself to enjoy the season as it unfolded instead of putting too much emphasis on any one day or event. Ultimately I did enjoy the whole month and the culmination of the holidays were undoubtedly, unexpectedly full with plans, travel, and activities I could never have anticipated. I'm only mildly bummed that I only managed to drag out one box of Halloween decorations and that I only set up a few things.

On to the next holiday season -

The coming winter holidays will be very different for our family this year than from past years. The traditional activities and date markers won't apply, we won't be all together at one time but instead the three of us (myself, hubby, remaining teen) will be hopping from place to place spending separate time with each of our childrren and their families. It will all be new and uncharted territory. Much of it won't happen in my home. I plan on approaching it all with the same "enjoy the season not the day" attitude.

Free Cartoons Wallpaper :Christmas - Tea Party

Still, along with the "be open to new possibilities" attitude, there has to be some planning of activities. Looking back on October, I'm happy with it for the most part, but I never truly did the decorating I wanted. I don't know why it didn't happen. Things just got in the way. No one else seemed to care (or help). I think activities and events took priority over decorating, including harvesting and football. Now I'm looking ahead to that stretch from Thanksgiving through New Years and wondering, with no big family gathering planned for our house, how will I approach decorating when it's really all for me?

Well, all for me and Hubby and teen William. But I'm the only one making it happen. I've had enthusiastic drag-out-the-boxes teen sons. William, the one remaining at home kid, is not one of them. I'm not sure if he even cares about decorations. I know Hubby enjoys the decorations - the seeing them part though, not the putting them up part.

So, without a big family to decorate for, what kind of decorating do I want to do? How much? I don't have any little kids, even the grandkids won't be here for the most part, to inspire me or compel me to put up a tree or bake cookies. I don't have a single family gathering to string garlands or clean house for. Since no one else will decorate or even help (unless pressed, grumbling, to do so), how much do I care about decorating, in relation to all the other holiday activities that will vie for my time and attention?

Do I want to decorate with my traditional boxes of stuff or do something different because I can? Since we won't, for the most part, be doing any of the activities we've traditionally done in the past, this is a year where I'm having to reinvent the holidays. This opens up lots of new possibilities but it also doesn't give me the structure that in years past have helped guide me. I could just muddle through or I could take things by the reins and go in a new direction, a direction that could be more meaningful to me than just "taking it as it comes". Although, taking things as they come often work out quite nicely. Hmmm. And sometimes taking things as they come, I end up looking back and wishing I'd taken more control.

It just occurred to me that maybe I worry about the decorating so much because I come from a family of BIG decorators. Obviously it's about activities or gatherings as well. We certainly have our share of family activities and gatherings, but the gathering bit was constantly in flux. Fun, but in flux. The one constant that the holidays revolved around for me was the decorating. Perhaps that's why it matters so much to me. Maybe it's not really about the decorating at all, maybe it's about bigger meanings and smaller rituals, not the ribbons and bows. Maybe it's not about decorating or not decorating that's bothering me at all. Maybe it's about, once again, reinventing the meaning of the holiday season. And maybe I already knew that. Hmmm. Thanks, me, for talking this out with myself (and hehe, with you guys too. Thanks for listening.)

So, first things first. I can't really even consider decorating - how much, what style, how soon, what purpose - until I tackle some serious cleaning and decluttering. AGAIN. I'd made big strides this year but I look around the house now and wonder where those strides disappeared to cuz, the house is obviously out of control once more! (I think because I feel the clock ticking on the last child leaving for college and I'm waiting to do some major rearranging - so everything already feels "temporary" once more).

So sit down. Have a cup of cocoa. And tell me - What sort of holiday decorating strategy (or none) do you use?

Friday, October 30, 2009

The thrift shop down the road from me hangs clothes out on their fence to let people know when they're open. Usually it's something for kids or some old lady type sweatshirt, but yesterday there was an intriguing black and white floral tee flapping in the wind. I stopped to check. I figured the odds were it wouldn't be in good shape or in my size. But it was. So, in a hurry, I dashed in to pay for it. But, on the way in, I spied this hanging over the entrance railing.

Isn't it BEAUTIFUL! Faery ball material, oh yes! It says it's in my size but I have my doubts. The waist is teeny tiny.

No matter. I can cut and snip and do all sorts of Cinderella things to it. Sans helpful mice and birds of course. It's not really the lavender color of the first photo. And it's not really as pink as in this flash photo. It's more of a very dusty rose.

Here it is hanging straight.

It has three layers of tulle - two of rose and one of this greenish gold.

The seam is split (but not ripped) in the back and the dress had spaghetti straps that have been cut in half. So the price for all this voluptuous girly frou frou? TWO dollars.

Tra la la!!!!!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

I had the most fantabulous mail day today! No bills, only two pieces of junk mail, and three packages for MOI!

One of my favorite new bloggers is Julie of Mermaiden Creations. I met her during Vanessa's Halloween blog party on the 17th. I didn't even notice that she was having a giveaway (or at least, I didn't remember, that was one WILD party!), but I won. This wee little pendant came today, packaged in this wee bag. Isn't it lovely. Tipped green. I love it. I have a feeling I'll be wearing it a lot this coming year.

It's pretty as a silhouette too. I can hang it in the window when I'm not wearing it.

If that wasn't enough of a surprise, my friend Deirdre sent me this adorable little glass bead witch necklace. Why? I dunno. Just because. (Just because she's a sweet friend to think of me and share the fun.) I put her around my neck right away.

Package #3 was a HUGE box from my witchy Mom. Inside was this scruffy witch's broom. Can you see the handle? It's hard against the black of the fireplace. Very cute. But the best part - there's an on/off switch on the bottom. Turn it on and it dances and hops about like the broom out of the Sorcerer's Apprentice and sings and chants - something tweaked from Shakespeare's Scottish play. (You're not suppose to actually say the name, right?) "Double bubble, boil and flubble.... mwahahaha... Happy Halloween from witches three!!! Hee hee heeeeee!" Okay, I made that up mostly. I was laughing so hard I didn't really hear exactly what it said.

Good mail days make me smile!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A few days ago I was on the way to the library when I came across a... well, not an estate sale. Some relatives clearing out an elderly parent's home. They were moving things into three spots - a rental truck for the stuff they wanted to keep, a large walk in dumpster for the stuff they thought wasn't worth anything to anyone (although there was indeed tons of great stuff in there), and the stuff inbetween they just set out on the lawn with a big sign that said "Free Stuff".

You can bet I did a fast u-turn and stopped. Spent quite a bit of time sorting through boxes and testing old furniture for stability and digging through bags of vintage fabrics and.... well, I left when I had no more room in my Subaru.

Here it all is, dragged in and dumped in, around, and behind the loveseat. I'm not going to show you everything, I don't have time to sort it this week, but I thought I'd show you a few different close ups of the treasures. And while we go through the photos, you can also play the feline version of Where's Waldo. Can you find the felines in this photo? There are three of them.

This one is too easy. That's Nut (pronounced "newt") peeking out beneath a set of four retro tv trays. I used to have some, Hubby loved them, but they were wood and bugs got'em. It was weird. So these will be fun. And bugs don't eat metal. And the colors match my living room. They need to be dusted off but they're in perfect shape.

Got an idea for using that old commercial frame on the top. That's a birdseye maple occasional table. And an old soda bottle box.

Can you find Miranda? The chair is one of the finds. It's sturdy, newly reupholstered, just needs the seat cleaned. I've got a little bookshelf corner that it will fit into perfectly as a reading chair. Those old drawers are painted all sorts of fun chippy colors - gonna use them for making altars/framed assemblage pieces. The yellow bag is full of old frames. The rest is miscellaneous bits and bobs and vintage fabric.

Find Charlie Weasley? More bits and bobs - an covered cake pan, some old metal hardware, lots more vintage clothing and fabric, and lots of things... I can't even remember it all.

An old chippy green children's chair and an old globe. Might make a couple more hanging globe lamps out of it. Or, who knows.

I think that's Nut again. Or maybe Yoda. And Charlie Weasley's ear. A sturdy wooden chair with a carved back, some old shutters that are all connected - I totally wanted to find some of these to use as a bulletin board, more fabric and odd miscellaneous, and a chandelier to spray paint (white or black - hmmmm?) and hang for decorative purposes.

But first things first. 1. Sort. 2. Find someplace to stick it all until I get back from yet another adventure this week. 3. Return and start making stuff!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Today, some dolls.

One of my purchases at Halloween and Vine was this adorable wee goth girl balancing atop an "L" block. "L" for Laume of course! She's got a little skelly doll and a pumpkin, striped stockings, dressed in black, looks like she hasn't bothered with a comb in awhile. I think she's perfect, just like me. Heehehee. Overnight my hair can look like that.

She was created by Kerry Howard-Schmidt of Paper Moon Gallery. She used to have a website but it looks like it's down. Here is her Etsy site.

Don't know if these really qualify as art. Kitsch maybe. I've had Johnny up there on the bookshelf for awhile and so I was excited to find a crew member for him at the thrift shop last week.

This guy in the middle is Ice Bat. He's an Ugly Doll. I love Ugly dolls. Look here, I didn't know they had such a cool website. Ice Bat sleeps with me every night. I've thought of getting more Ugly dolls but I was a bit worried that Ice Bat wouldn't appreciate a sibling. He's seemed like an only child sort of guy. Sure, he shares the bed with Hubby, Hubby's monkeys, the cats, obviously Rosie, and an occasional grandchild. But I didn't want another ugly doll.

Until I saw Fang. For some reason I thought Ice Bat and Fang would get along. Fang isn't an Ugly Doll. He was handmade by my friend Mermie. She has more dolls up on her etsy shop, Mermaid Laughing.

Then, on this last trip, we stumbled upon Poe, a tiny Ugly Doll. He came home with us too. He was going to be my "travel doll", but I couldn't bare the thought of him having to sleep alone in my suitcase between trips so he's in bed with us now too.

As you can see, Ice Bat has taken both the little newcomers under his wing. Turns out he's made a very good big brother.