Thursday, November 29, 2007

Give Me My Art Time, and No One Gets Hurt

I've had no time for art the last few days; I haven't even made it to the studio, so I'm starting to feel a little out of sorts! The best I could do was another early morning with a few minutes to play with the camera. Still learning how to shoot into the sun.

Been doing "real work" projects and haven't even had time to blog or look at art magazines or even watch television. I would be getting cranky, but tomorrow starts the weekend - yay! For some crazy reason I agreed to babysit an unrelated toddler Saturday night, but I figure I am guaranteed free time when he goes to sleep because I won't be at my own house.

Some wonderful swap packages have arrived this week, and I need to take time to photograph everything. At least I got my thank-you's out; Martha and Emily would be proud. TGIF (in 41 minutes!).

Monday, November 26, 2007

Time for some New Eye Candy. Yum!

I promised I would blog about the DH's famous chili, created after years of experimentation. It is so nice to have someone else cook!
Paul's No Longer a Secret Chili
1 lb. lean ground chuck, cooked with onion and drained
1/2 of a medium yellow onion, minced
Into a greased crock pot, add the above along with:
1 16 oz. can stewed tomatoes, seasoned for chili
1 16 oz. can tomato sauce
1 16 oz. can Brooks mild chili beans
1 16 oz. can water
1/2 pkt. chili seasoning (any)
Cook on low three hours, stirring every 20 minutes or so.
I also offer up on a different eye candy front one brunette Blythe who needs a name. She did manage to get out of her night shirt, robe, bunny slippers and rollers and into this outfit which includes a tiny knitted cardigan and matching hairclip from Feltland on Beautiful miniature work. Names in the hopper are Ainsley, Afton, Greta, Grace, Maggie/Maggy, Lisle. She is Lilly London's sister, as if that helps any!

Also: inspiration, found here: I love looking at all the various photos on Flickr. In fact, there's a group for Flickrclickritis, and I am afraid I have it. But I am not alone, and it's a pretty clean vice. In fact, according to home page, there were 3,396 photos uploaded in the minute it took me to type this sentence. That is incredible. Whatever you like, you'll find it there.

You can also find a little ego stroking within the amateur photographer community. In fact, I've had two photos invited to exclusive groups, one for all pink, all the time. Actually the group is Top 20 Pink, and for one brief moment, one of my photos was allegedly among the top 20 of the millions of pink photos there. The other award was for my front door holiday wreath, which was invited to Fabulous Holiday Trees, Wreaths and Garlands.

Meanwhile, on another e-front, I was invited to serve as a moderator for ZNE or VariaZioNE, where I will be manning the ZNE Verses- group poetry efforts pulled together and set to music and art. I can't wait! My other duty will be to somehow tie in the monthly ZNE Book Club assignments to the ZNE verses. We start in January with The Complete Guide to Altered Imagery by Karen Michel. Book club membership fees benefit Bernie Berlin's A Place to Bark (see badge and updated ticker at right). A good cause.
Lastly, I did not know it was Cyber Monday (until about 8 p.m.), but I did my fair share, having visited Lands End and ebay today. It was definitely Mail Mania Monday with great swaps arriving from Miss Mary Isabella of the snowman swap and super Magic and Mayhem ATC's from Faerie Zine members Julie Baxley, Catriona Allen-Bryce, Nichole Pennington and Brendalea as well as founder Lisa Kettell Thank you girls! Lucky me!

The End of the Weekend

I finished these doodle cat ATCs last night during Desperate Housewives and Brothers & Sisters. It's hard for me to "just" watch television. I like to be doing something, because, let's face it, one really doesn't 'have to concentrate' on those shows, as good as they are.
Had a hard time falling asleep, so I started recounting all the things that went on over the four-day weekend. When I reflect it always makes me feel like the days lasted a little longer, because they always seem to go so fast otherwise. Then for some reason, I woke up at 4 a.m. raring to go, whatever raring means.
So I did email, ate some Raisin Nut Bran, read my favorite blogs, looked at Flickr, and finally at 7 a.m. decided to take pictures of these cards. I found a "doodle" that works for me, and now I cannot stop doodling these cards. I'd given the previous cats all away, so I thought I'd make some for me. These are watercolor crayons and gel pens on heavy journal pages, cut out and mounted on various background papers, some from Shabby Cottage Studio where I am on the Design Team: The Seven Shabby Sisters. Watch for our next project of an altered paper house/hanger-upper-thingy.
I already was asked by the lovely Jade to swap a card I posted on Flickr last night, so they don't last too long! I'm hoping she will send me a Zentangle in trade. I am just learning about these here: and haven't tried one yet. Need to get a good pen- it is key.
Looking forward to today's mail arrival. With all of my swaps now sent out, it is fun to just sit back and see what comes. That's the benefit of getting done on time or early, I guess. Forgot to take a picture of the snowman swap I sent to Mary Isabella, but I guess that's a good thing because she's one of my regular blog visitors. So, no sneak peek for you, Mary! Ho, ho, ho.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

More Art, Less Talk!

Just a quick post to get my new ATCs on the blog. Barbara from KY requested a Fairy Dreams card she saw on Flickr that I had made for the ARTchix swap, and I realized I had mailed them all away and didn't even keep one for myself. I told her this, and she asked if I would make two: one for her and one for me (sneaky!). Anyway, I made 11; some are for swaps, and some are to keep. I may be needing them since I joined ATC World on Yahoo! They are swap-crazy there.
Here's a few I made Sunday. More on Flickr here:
By the way, how can a four day weekend that really started Wednesday night be so dang short and pass so fast?

We Now Interrupt this Sleepless Night for Some More Art and Other Creative Endeavors

Okay, so I wasn't even asleep or in bed when the biggest Christmas tree in the house (7') toppled over at 1:30 a.m. Really wasn't expecting that to happen so soon. We forget to put a brick on the feet of the stand under the tree skirt. Haven't had to do that in a few years, but I guess we have a new batch of curious felines. So, several broken ornaments, an awakened and grouchy DH, a run of the vacuum, and some Super Glue later, it was finally time to finish up some art projects.

My 4 x 4 Friday book page for the lace theme is pictured in the post below. That allowed me to feature my newest obsession, Blythe dolls. Lilly London now has a sister, as yet unnamed, who arrived today, an ADG Brunette #3. She quickly wanted to get comfy and put on her nightshirt, robe, bunny slippers and get her hair rolled. No problem. Lilly, on the other hand, wanted to keep trying on outfits, including her sister's new pink boots. More photo opps.

Following this, I was able to complete my paper clay snowman ornament for Viv on a Whim's swap, and it will be off to Mary B. next week. With one snowman head left, I decided to make an Americana paper box, using aged red, white and blue paper, canvas ribbon stamped "joy," from Random Arts, two sizes of gold tinsel, a brown crepe paper ruff and some gold spray glitter. This might turn into a Christmas present.

Blythe Obsession Comes in Handy

The 4 x 4 Friday challenge this week was "lace," so I thought why not incorporate my newest obsession of Blythe dolls since they are so sweet. The pictures are from a paper fan sent from Tokyo with my first Blythe, Lilly, aka Star Dancer. The fan was distributed by a Japanese hair coloring company (for real peeps, not dolls), but they used Blythe images on all of the packaging. Think Clairol Nice 'N Easy boxes with Blythe heads instead. Anyway, to make a long story short, here is my page, and now I've got to hop on over to Wordpress to link it. 4 x 4 Friday gets participants from all over the world, which is cool. Blythes are much more well known in Japan and the rest of Asia.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Trees 2, 3 and 4 Done. Check. Check. Check.

Black Friday is the greatest day of the year for staying home, sleeping in, decorating, eating leftovers, baking something, ordering pizza and decorating some more. Today I not only managed to get a handle on the overload of Thanksgiving dishes, (dishwasher loads, that is), but I also went through more basement storage to bring up my office tree, put out my outside tree and find all the supplies for the big tree in the family room.
It was spitting snow and freezing while I was out gathering up plants and gourds, changing flags, rigging up a park bench vignette and, yes, spray painting a wreath. I never seem to do any of this when it is warm. My wreath turned out well, with some quick spritzes of silver, gold and spray snow on a formerly red, white and blue wreath. I made a fancy gold bow and was all set. The outside tree is heavily flocked, a former prop from Bath and Body Works. I have a plethora of $1 trees for various seasons from BBW. Gotta have connections.
My office tree is 3', kind of vintage Victorian, reds and golds, with some glass hearts and a Capiz shell angel on top. The family room tree is traditional greem with all of the kids' handmade ornaments on it, some of mom and dad's childhood ornaments, some Hallmark sentimental year ones and some with pictures of our former cats, Myrtle, Murphy, Maynard and Mookie. We so look forward to getting all of these out every year.
Also here is an up-close shot of one of my six 'Besty' ornaments on my pink tree from Sadie Lou Who on Etsy or here
Decorating is mostly done, except for some snomen here and there, and the basement family room. That one gets a skinny prim tree, if I put it out. We remodeled the basement into more of a retro-modern Pier 1/Pottery Barn American casual look this year, and I am not sure the old country primitive ornaments are going to work. But then, four trees are just as good as five.

Call Me Weird, I Don't Care

Okay, so maybe I am having a little too much fun with my Blythe doll, Lilly. But, hey, she's only been here three days. We're still trying on fashions, and we don't care what anyone thinks. We're still searching for the perfect photo op, the perfect hairstyle; well, clearly our work here is not done. Carry on. Stop staring.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

And a Final Look at Thanksgiving

Although I already blogged below about getting all the Thanksgiving fuss put away and the Christmas stuff out for the first go-'round, I decided Thanksgiving deserved better than this. It was a great day, and one of the few times we get together with anyone other than our little nuclear family.

Alex got to shoot hoops, play PIG actually, with his cousin Brian, 27. Alex of course insisted he did not need a coat, even though the snow started sticking later. Honestly, isn't shooting hoops no matter the weather such a Hoosier tradition? Brian's kids, Chloe, 6, and Logan, 4, were a treat, and Logan decided I needed a nametag that said "Derek" stuck to me for no apparent reason.

Mostly I love this picture of my DH's mother Peg (left), just simply because she is 88 and looks fabulous and is fabulous. Here, she's schooling her daughter, Judi, 61, on the fine art of gravy. I mean, who knows how to make gravy anymore? I swear cooking is a skill that is dying. The X-'ers and Y-'ers and even the Me Too gen just simply were raised on convenience foods. Most of my younger co-workers, even in their mid-30's, do not know how to cook and therefore, just don't. What will their kids do?
Judi has a fake cat, Thomas, which Lilly was checking out. Judi doesn't realllly like real cats, truth be told.

And lastly, a picture of horizontal stripes gone horribly wrong....happy Thanksgiving. For all this, I am thankful.

And We're Off! On Dasher and Dancer and Larry and the Next Holiday

No sooner were the turkey pans, Tupperwares and cool whip tubs put away than the television (translation: el futbol) came on, and I hightailed it across town (that's about five blocks total where I live) to erect my first of five trees.

This was the first year for the pink tree in the living room. Actually, it is a white tree with fuschia and silver ornaments. I can't decide how I feel; I'm almost preferring my brown and turquoise decorations from the past couple of years. At least they coordinated with the living room. I must have said "No, Larry" at least 25, maybe 50 times while putting on the ornaments. Larry is a cat. The naughty one. The one who eats large pieces of fabric and other miscellaneous to send himself to the hospital for nearly two weeks. But, I digress.

As for the tree colors, if I make a change it won't be the first time in history a tree has come down before Christmas. More than once I've had to completely replace lights on a tree, or re-erect -maybe it's resurrect- a tree where the cats have played hide and seek. We finally and begrudgingly switched to artificial trees after a gazillion too many needles and ruined carpet and packages from cats knocking the tree water out of the stand. It helped that we got a 7' green for free and a new white 7' K-Martha tree for $10. Last year I actually put away the living room tree before Christmas to make more room for company and because it looked so bedraggled after four weeks of cat terrorizing.

So one is up so far. Tomorrow it will be the traditional tree in the family room that gets attention. And I'll put my outside tree out to replace the fall/orange-y decorations that must come in. We're lucky to have so many pine trees so I can cut branches to fill my planter boxes.

Lilly London, my Blythe, also went to Thanksgiving (just so the in-laws could continue to think I'm wacko), and here she's helping SIL Judi light her grapevine tree. I also changed my table from a setting I'd had all summer and fall to this late late fall and winter display that can last through Christmas. So, slowly but surely the decorations are flowing.

Did the Pilgrims have this?

I haven't really ever blogged about food before, but I love how Alicia Paulson, a star knitter and author, talks about fabulous recipes at She writes with such passion you'd think her blog was about food, but it's really about hearth and home. In fact, she calls her blog Posie Gets Cozy. You can find photos of her corgi, Clover Meadow Honey Paulson, her art, her cooking, her decorating. I just love it all.
So, since my cake was a surprise smash hit today, after much grumbling from the children about coconut and nuts, I decided to share. The recipe is branded by German's, but I wouldn't think they'd care if I gave them a plug. I don't know if copyrights apply to recipes anyway, but I wanted to give credit where credit is due. Plus, I snagged this one from Katie at my office.
German's Sweet Chocolate Cake
1 pkg. (4 oz.) Baker's & German's sweet chocolate
1/2c. water
2 c. flour
1. tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 sticks butter or margarine
2 c. sugar
4 eggs, separated
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. buttermilk
Line 3 9-inch cake pans with wax paper, spray bottoms and sides.
Melt chocolate and water on high 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, stirring until completely melted.
Mix flour, baking soda and salt and set aside. Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each. Stir in chocolate mixture and vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating until well blended after each addition.
Beat egg whites in another large bowl with electric mixer on high until stiff peaks form. This could take up to 10 minutes. Gently stir into batter and pour evenly into prepared pans. Bake at 350-F 30 minutes until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Immediately run spatula around edges. Cool 15 minutes then remove from pans. Cool completely on wire racks. Assemble by frosting between layers and on top.
Coconut-Pecan Filling and Frosting
1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 1/2 sticks butter or margarine
4 egg yolks slightly beaten
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 pkg. (7 oz.) flaked coconut
1 1/2 c. chopped pecans
Mix milk, sugar, butter, egg yolks and vanilla in large saucepan. Cook on medium heat 12 minutes or until thickened and golden brown, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, add coconut and pecans, Cool to spreading consistency. It should be noted here, you can cheat and get a tub of German chocolate frosting and just add the pecan pieces, if all this fussing is too overwhelming. I add this because it sure seems like no one cooks anymore. Well, except for today. There was a lot of cooking going on today, I'm sure.

Happy Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Lilly Gets to Know the Other Inhabitants

Lilly London Arrives from Tokyo, Just in Time for Thanksgiving Feast of Fashions

She didn't take the Mayflower, but she did make a pilgrimage and pass through customs, and who knows, maybe even Ellis Island. In any event, Ms Lilly London late of Tokyo arrived safely today, and was extremely exicted to tear into her new wardrobe. Her faves were her Coach wallet and planner from Re-ment, Anya Hindmarch eco-friendly I'm Not a Plastic Bag bag from This is Blythe store, rhinestone specs and her Chucks from Hong Kong. She eagerly awaits the arrival of her as-yet-unnamed brunette sister.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

It Wasn't Even My Birthday!

Although the plan was for a Zetti-style Holiday ATC swap at lunch, I think this "Bonus Mona" might be my favorite. I feel like I should have headlined this post "I Did Not Make These!" And, if all this sounds like code, let me explain.

It was a gathering of ARTchix as Jade, her sister Coral and mom Vonda and I gathered, never having met before, with the original intent of Jade and I swapping a holiday card and some goodies. Goodies in the art world can mean just about anything, but usually ephemera and little bits and baubles to alter with.

However, I had my binder of ATC cards that I had made and so did Jade. Plus I had some that I have gotten from swaps (and am keeping) so we had a look-fest, and then the swapping began in earnest. I had made Vonda and Coral surprise cards anyway, and Vonda had one she had made with her (the purple-gray angel here) from her ATC Cemetery and Statuary group which she gave to me. Then Jade saw some more she liked and so did I. That girl is seriously talented and so is her family. Mom Vonda just won the ARTchix Fairy Dreams swap!

They also turned me onto Crafts 2000 as well as some cool Yahoo! groups: ATC World, Altered Heads, Zetti Zoo, Cemetery and Statuary as well as Zentangles. Ah! More stuff to learn and do!

The Christmas Greetings, Eighth Dwarf and Mona are all from Jade and the Crusty Tale Mermaid on an actual canvas is from Dana of fairydustedmermaids on ebay and Flickr.
Coral's goodies are coming by post, and not faux post either! That's an ARTchix joke. Okay, so I guess we artistas are weird. But, we're a (mostly) happy lot.