Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Home Sweet Home

One more of the CasaBella houses. Hoping my aunt enjoys it as much as I enjoyed creating it for her.

Got a little more brave with the beeswax and did some reheating on the house itself and kind of shrinking it away from the papers. Love how it seemed to darken and further age the areas I heated up. Interesting to just play around with it. Working on the canvas was a little more challenging than using the wood base, but I was happy to find the size and shape I'd been wanting to use for this project. This one is a little more like the inspiration piece, but proud to say that adding the quote was my idea. And I love this one by Laura Ingalls Wilder. And the emellishment on the door-mwah! had a hard time parting with that beautiful button. Another from the stash I scored several weeks ago. And the frill-well, from my pantry. Yep! a cupcake liner. It works when you don't have just the right shade of crepe paper.

While I was working on this piece I thought about the copy of Little Women that my aunt gave to me when I was a little girl. I must have read that a hundred times-and still have it. I remember watching American Bandstand with her on Saturday mornings when I was at my grandma's and she still lived at home. She always reminded me of Marlo Thomas-I think it was here hair then. Classic 60's and 70's hair-shoulder length with bangs and of course, the flip. She has it long again after many years of a pixie cut-so, so cute on her. She has the greatest laugh and smile, too. So happy for her to have this new home of her very own. A sweet nest for two!

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men

You know how the saying goes. Yeah, I hate when things don't work out. But then again, funny how they do. Had been signed up to take a class at Red Lead yesterday and then it just didn't work out to get down there and back before school was out so... Spent my 2.5 hrs of weekly solitude running some errands and popping into a couple of my fav spots. Picked up the small pieces I was having painted at Robin's Nest. This one I decided to use in my teeny tiny laundry room.

And this one still needs a little work. Naturally, I had a debacle with the glass knobs so it's not quite finished, but this will help me begin to get organized in my studio. Sooner than later, I hope. Got this at the local junk store for $10-coat of paint and new knobs and ta-dah! Well, that's the idea anyway. Like I said, best laid plans...

And because I just can't help myself, my next stop brought me to Willow Lake for their Spring Sale. That Eileen, she is so clever and finds the best stuff. I need to find out how I can be her wingman on her next antiquing trip. Even the little ducks you pull out of the water for an add'l discount were vintage. And pink! Love it!

These screamed at me when I got out of the car. Love the blue glass and loved that they came grouped together on the carrier that helps lower them into the boiling pot when canning. They make a great centerpiece filled with flowers or just about anything. They would also look cute with vintage buttons or other small pieces stored in them. For the summer though, I think I'm going to keep them on my kitchen table or island with sand, shells and maybe a tealight or two.

And these pink linen napkins tugged on my sweater-at $1/ea, I thought they were a great deal. The color is divine! Need to have a girls lunch or something so I can use them. Hmmm...

For a little treat I picked up these. Going to send one along in the care package I'm sending to my friend in Ethiopia. She is an angel ministering to children who have been orphaned by AIDS or who face other daily challenges we cannot fathom. These are handmade by a local gal and was just one of many yummy soaps and bath stuff Willow Lake is now carrying. Too pretty to pass up!

If you're local, Eileen still has some great stuff left and will be open on Sunday this week, too! EVERYTHING ON SALE plus tasty treats and door prizes. Also, on my driveby's passed Oma's looks like the girls are in full Spring planting mode. Email me if you need directions to any of these terrific local shops. I linked to their websites if they have one.

BTW, I would be remiss if I didn't mention my brief stop at Raspberry Patch, too. The ladies there are so helpful and their enthusiasm for quilting is infectious. I was really just supposed to be window shopping for fabric to be used on a project my mom is going to work on for me. But ended up buying fabric for me to try and make my first quilt. Well, a wallhanging really. Here's a peek at the fabrics I selected.

Feel like I should wear a button: SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL BOUTIQUES. :)

Whether you have plans or not-Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day

"The earth laughs in flowers." -- e.e. cummings

I love this quote and I always think of my Grandma Swan when I see it. She loved flowers. And all the little backyard creatures that came to her door. Just like Snow White, she would feed many of them from her hand-squirrels in particular. You know, she had a baby squirrel named, Jethro. At her house on Clark Street she had enormous hydrangea bushes. I think that's where my love affair with hydrangeas began. She always had African violets in the house and lots of potted plants on the porch or patio. This past Sunday would have been her birthday and so I thought it only appropriate to blog about her and her love of flowers and all living things on Earth Day. Boy, do I miss her. I spent alot of time at her house from middle school through college just visiting and hanging out with her. If I spent the night on Saturdays we always watched The Lawrence Welk Show, but she had very ecletic tastes in music from Jim Nabors to Elton John and Leo Sayer (remember him?) to Leonard Skynard. Oh, and Rod Stewart-one of her favorite songs was Maggie May. She was a high spirited lady with many a colorful story, but to me she was my grandma and made each trip to her house special whether it was for the afternoon or several days. Each time I see flowers in bloom or a little creature- especially a bluebird, I like to think she's thinking of me. She'll definitely be one of the first people I'll be looking for in Heaven. I'm sure she'll be puttering in a garden somewhere ready with a glass of iced tea when I get there!

Okay, enough of that. I'm crying as I type!!! Want to encourage you today to do what you can to be a good steward of the Earth. As a family, we have been recycling since we moved to a community that provides this service with weekly trash pickup. Once we got into the habit it is so easy and you wouldn't believe what a HUGE difference it makes in the amount that goes out to the curb to go to the landfill. We can still do more and right now are working towards changing out some of our cleaning products and trying to cut down on the amount of paper towels and water we use. I've stopped buying bottled water for at home and instead invested in a water filter pitcher. Just recently I switched to taking reuseable bags to the grocery store and Target and recycling what plastic ones do come home with me. Overall, just trying to be good stewards of the resources around us. Eventually, we need to make a decision about the lawn service we currently use and switch to organic. (Yes, I know. If you're really environmental you might have just lost faith in me there.) And in general, I need to reduce the amount of stuff that comes into our home. But we're trying to do our part and increase what we do to better the environment as we are able.

There are so many little things each of us can do to make a big difference. Awareness is key. We live on such an amazing planet with such diversity of plant and animal life. What a gift and privilege! I think the Native Americans have a wonderful perspective about Mother Earth.

"Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Saturday, April 19, 2008

PEACE to all who enter

Here's a little something I've been working on. This is the first project from the new CasaBella e-Zine which began last week. BTW, it's not too late to subscribe HERE. I'm getting a little better about using what I have and doing my own spin on things. Although this is still in keeping with the sample inspiration piece-I'm not that brave! Love all the texture and that charcoal pencil is like a magic wand. It gives depth instantly. Love that!

One of the new techniques from this issue of the 'zine was to use masking tape to pull away at the papers in order to distress the project. This was done after the initial layer of book paper was adhered to the base with gel medium. Very cool method, but on this project alot of that gets covered up by the house, but cool none the less and you can see bits of this and then I highlighted with the charcoal pencil.

Another new technique I tried on this was beeswax. Yep! just took a deep breath and finally tried it. Love how it blends everything together and gives a mellowness to the piece.
I was also able to attach the gold dove before the wax dried. fuN! Got really bold and scattered some mica flakes for some sparkle. I had been wanting to try this for awhile and really this was just to be a practice piece for a housewarming gift I'm wanting to make. But as I got deeper into it, I loved it more and more. So I decided, why not tailor this for my front entry. I kinda like how it came together.

Other points of interest-used vintage flocked wallpaper for the door-chose the yellow as I'm toying with painting the interior of our house a different color. We've had the same color (similiar to the wallpaper piece) since we moved here six years or so ago. So just in case I repaint, I want to remember the yellow. I do love it-see my dilemma?

The door knob is some sort of vintage button I got in the lot of buttons I bought a few weekends ago. There's a little rhinestone in the knob-do you see it? Knew they would be perfect for collage projects like this when a doorknob was needed. Fortunately, I have several of these to use on future pieces!

Since I collect "M's" I decided to use a letter rather than a number on the nest to represent our family. This is a felt one in "bella blue", of course and a little homage to the modern. And the phrase, well, that was inspired by my sweet husband who always reminds me that HOME should be a sanctuary. Yes honey, you are exactly right.

PEACE to you from our cozy little nest!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Great Balls of Fire!

We were abruptly woken up this morning by an earthquake. Yes! in the midwest and not California-can you believe it? Really a bizarre sensation. I thought maybe we were having a tornado when we realized EVERYTHING in our house was shaking. Seemed to go on awhile although it was only for a minute. Really freaked Cam out at his place-said stuff fell off a shelf even. I'm sure we don't have any damage, but for some of our family and friends you know I'm going to be checking our basement!

What a way to start the day. Happy Friday!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Spring Fever

When daisies pied, and violets blue,
And lady-smocks all silver-white,
And cuckoo-buds of yellow hue
Do paint the meadows with delight


Man! do I have Spring fever today! The weather here is absoutely gorgeous! Sunny, breezy and mid-70's. Not sure if everything is actually blooming more this year or if we've just been waiting so long for spring to arrive, but the ground is coming alive with all sorts of blossoms. My daffodils have been particularly generous this year and I've really enjoyed them. The redbud outside my window at work is now starting to bloom-one of my favorite trees. Can't help but get energized when it's SO pretty outside. Guess I'd better do something with that energy. Have so many things needing my attention not sure what I should choose first. Or how.
Draw straws? Throw a dart at my list? Eenie, Meenie?
Had a productive day at work so I need to carry that over here at home. Fingers crossed!

Hoping to work tomorrow night on a couple little art projects while Jeff plays golf.
The most recent Bella e-Zine has begun-Casa Bella.

Lots of fun home decorative projects in store and I'm already two behind! It's been a few weeks since the last one ended so I've been missing it. Being a part of these really keeps you motivated to be creative. I've kind of lost my mojo the last week or two.

Enjoy your evening! Guess I'll start with the laundry...

Friday, April 11, 2008

La Couleur de Joie

The wind has been blowing here like mad today. One last shot of winter breeze trying to chase out the lovely spring weather we've been enjoying this week, I suppose. Had to come home and rescue a few of my jonquils this afternoon. 18 stems of sweet-faced babes are now keeping me company in my kitchen. Their fragrance is divine! Don't they just scream JOY? Oh, how I love the color yellow-the color of joy!

Monday, April 07, 2008

Time Flies

This past Sunday was a day of family gatherings. Beginning with our 21st annual Swan family brunch, we enjoyed visiting and catching up with aunts, uncles and cousins. Can't help but think of my grandma whenever we're all together. In her honor, I had bread pudding with vanilla sauce-YUM! And iced tea, of course. My grandma claimed there wasn't much a glass of iced tea couldn't cure. I always loved her "tomorrow is another day" philosophy she imparted when one of us was upset or forlorn. Miss her-terribly.

This is my dad and two of his sisters, my Aunt Bonnie (left) and Aunt Wanda (right). My sister and I had a chance to visit Aunt Wanda's new home and meet her sweet dog, Susie who is part Westie. Yes, be still my heart. Was fun to have that extra time with her after the brunch. It's really her doing that we have our brunch every year. We owe her big time for that!

And these are the "original" cousins. Well, minus 2-Jen and Anna and Krista, our first cousin who was always more like one of the "originals". We all spent ALOT of time together when we were kids.

We ended the day with a family celebration-Cam's 21st birthday. Just realized that bit of coincidence-hmmm.....

Cam's favorite place for his birthday the past several years has been the Japanese steakhouse. Since you only turn 21 once in a lifetime, we were happy to oblige him by having dinner at Ariaku, a nearby steakhouse. I can't believe how fast the time goes by. How did he get to be 21?!?

My mom made a really special card for him-I'll have to borrow it so I can snap a photo or scan-it was very sweet. My sister and I were crying before we even actually saw the card. Just the look on Cam's face as he took it all in-well, I can't describe it. I'm tearing up just thinking about it. Grandma's are special people.

So grateful for birthdays and family reunions. So grateful we could all be together if even for a short time. So grateful after all this time memories of years gone by bind us together. Time flies, but at least that means it won't be long until we are all together again!