Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Can't forget the 13th day of Christmas!


Lelainia Lloyd created a package of pure fun for the 13th day of Christmas (which occurred for me, on the 7th day when everyone else opened my gift). Lelainia's gift was stuffed full of ephemera (inspiring stuff to get me going on some art projects in the new year), a yummy looking recipe, a Christmas CD (which I've played almost nonstop since I opened it) ...

... and an exquisite Shabby Chic-ish star which predominately hangs on my little pink feather Christmas tree.

This 12 Days of Christmas swap has been a lot of fun with such talented artists taking part.

In a couple hours, it will be Christmas Day.
Merry Christmas to you all.
God bless us, everyone!

The 12th Day

An beautiful hand stamped fabric bird
for the 12th day of Christmas
arrived this morning
courtesy of Debra Cooper
of A Little Imagination and a Pile of Junk.

Debra creates funky patterned stamps
to achieve her own designs
which are always innovative
and well done.

I love the danglies too, Debra ~ fun!
Thank you.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

It's the 11th day of Christmas ~ Time flies by

Look what flew over the pond
from Liz Smith in England!
It's a Primitive Country Style stuffed birdie
to adorn my Christmas tree. Each side features a different fabric pattern. The eyes of the bird are made by stitching thread through the
I love its simplicity.







Isn't it sweet?
Thank you so much Liz.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The 10th day of Christmas is stuffed with nostalgia

Leave it to Barbara Atwell
to come up with something as simple,
but as amazingly elegant as these precious Christmas decorations!
She photocopied some vintage photos of children ...
colourized them, stuffed them and ...
sewed them up, adding a string hanger and a star.
I love this idea Barbara!
Mind if I borrow it?
These charming decorations will adorn my tree every year.
This one has already found a home on my pink feather tree!

I think I'll call her Barbara.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Dotty on the 9th Day of Christmas


The 9th day of Christmas
came in several pieces
all the way from New Zealand.
Don't worry,
it's a good thing.
Lisa Ryder created a dotty collage
(4"x6") along with a set of
12 charming
Artist Trading Cards (ATCs).

She incorporated humour and
good design. It's been a long time
since I've been in an ATC swap,
so this was lots of fun to receive.
Thanks Lisa!

P.S. Doesn't the dotty collage compliment the new look of my blog? It wasn't really planned that way, obviously, but fun, anyway.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

8th Day of Christmas is hand-stitched with love


The lovely Fiona Mortimore
from Down Under
created a couple of
handmade treasures
for Day #8.
Aren't they just the prettiest?!

To me, the hand-stitched birdie
looks Scandinavian.
Whatever its origin,
it looks perfect on my Christmas tree.

And the fabric bookmark is
Shabby Chic-ishly wonderful!
The bookmark is just perfect
to use it in my big Van Gogh book.

Friday, December 19, 2008

7th Day of Christmas & the Ties that Bind


The 7th day of Christmas is my day to give back to all the wonderful artists participating in the 12 Days of Christmas. It's just after midnight here, and I wanted to post this so that it would be up for the overseas gals.
It took me the longest time to decide what to make for this year's swap.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I have a serious Sewing Phobia, so I am very proud of myself. I stretched real hard, and jumped completely out of the box by making these little Tie Pockets. Each gift was created by using an old neckties from the the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s! I found some of these delightful ties at the ReUse Centre, one was my dad's, and a couple I snuck out of my husband's closet! Once I had assembled 12 ties, I tried as best I could to match everyone's colour preferences. Also whenever possible, I added embellishments I felt each person may like. My friend Shelly, was kind enough to lend me her sewing machine, and I was off ... going where I hadn't gone since eighth grade home ec. class ... to use a scary, scary sewing machine. Argh! The first couple ties I made were pretty rough. (You'll probably know if I made yours first ... or maybe you won't *smile*) However, as I went along, I actually started to enjoy myself. I decided that straight lines weren't that important, which took a lot of pressure off, too. Each Tie Pocket has a button with Velcro fasteners to keep them securely closed. Finally, I made 3 cards to stuff into the completed Tie Pockets: Permission to Play, Permission to Make Mistakes and Artist of the Year. I had photos of some of the 12 day artists, so for those folks, I added "Photo ID" (or would that be Faux-toe ID?) to the Artist of the Year cards, just in case they have to use it at an airport or something. MOO cards seemed to be an obvious choice for one last item to stuff into the Tie Pockets for my friends ~ each MOO card features some art piece that I've done in the past. Finally, I wrapped the gifts in simple old-fashioned tissue paper with sparkles and added little Christmas tags featuring little children and angels (another great find from ReUse). I hope everyone likes the Tie Pockets I made them and I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas.
Now please excuse me while I secretly open the
mysterious #13 gift from Lelainia ....

By the way, I made an extra Artist of the Year card for my son Zachary because he is fast becoming an
excellent artist in his own right!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The 6th day of Christmas is pretty, pretty!


Ruth O'Connor crafted this pretty, pretty pink (!) lace cuff bracelet for me on the 6th Day of Christmas. I love the vintage-ness of it all! It's very clever too, because this bracelet is kind of a one-size-fits-all type. The crocheted holes allow for the button to be done up anywhere. And doesn't it look lovely on my pink tree?

Tomorrow is my big day in the 12 Days of Christmas swap ~ my Day 7 gifts will be opened up by the other ladies and I get to open Lelainia's #13 gift! I hope everyone will like them.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

5th Day of Christmas arrives with lace & bling ...




Arlene of Art De Me created one of her masterpiece wallets for me ... finally! I've seen some of these wallets before that she has made for her family, and I've hinted quite loudly that I would love to have one for my very own, and now I do, thanks to the 12 Days of Christmas Swap.
I love everything about the wallet, Arlene. From the blingy buttons, to the nativity postage stamps, to the vintage doilies to the handwriting ~ you really do know me, my friend. As you say: more glitter!
For anyone fortunate enough to now one, you should know that these babies wear really well. Arlene still uses the original wallet she made as a prototype and it's holding up after years of use. And with all the pockets inside, there is plenty of room for one's myriad of cards (including MOOs).

P.S. Arlene, I love the face inside the pocket area of my wallet. Was that done intentionally? Very cool!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

4th Day of Christmas ... at my house


The amazing work of Jeannie Peragrine is the gift for the 4th day of Christmas. I love the texture of the house and the vintage accents (old white buttons, pencil and Bingo chip) that she used in my little green house.
There is script on the house that reads: "Oh where, do the fairies dwell?" Perhaps in this charming little house!
Thanks Jeannie ~ you made this so "me"!

Monday, December 15, 2008

3rd day of Christmas fun and games

Look at the wonderfully playful necklace Amy created for us on the third day of Christmas! She soldered two antique looking game pieces (ivory-like domino and a wooden "D" initial) and strung them on a silver ball chain. I wore mine today and have had several compliments on them already.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

On the 2nd day of Christmas ...

Penelope gave to me ... a teeny tiny cloth hand bound book and I must say that I was very impressed with the craftsmanship of this giftie! It looks like something ancient, from long ago. It must have taken Penelope forever to make 12 of these for everyone in the 12 days of Christmas swap!







The little volume has found a new home beneath my pink feather Christmas tree!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Blog draw!

Oh lookie here! Susan Tuttle has a brand new book out and she's giving one away on her website, here! You can also buy it on Amazon.

It looks like a pretty amazing book and a great addition to any mixed-media artist's resource library.

1st day of Christmas ... or biting the bullet?

Kathy Strittmater has started off the 12 Days of Christmas with a bang! She ingeniously crafted a beautiful pendant using a bullet casing. Here's her story...

The Long Lost Bullet
by Kathy Strittmater
A long time ago a friend of mine gave me a bag of tarnished used bullet casings in various sizes and he said "I know you'll figure out something to do with these". I've had them for years and recently thought about making a pendant out of them for our exchange. Since there were several sizes, and I'm not the least bit knowledgeable about guns and bullets, I took the bag to work to ask some of the men that hunt if they could tell me about the different sizes.
I started with my boss, and that was the wrong person to ask. He promptly told me that I had violated our company policy on bringing firearms and contraband into the workplace and he could immediately terminate my employment. I stood there stunned and said "are you serious – they are empty bullet casings" and he said it didn't matter, it was a violation of our policy and I needed to get them off property immediately. I was not allowed to go put them in my car as we have a vehicle search policy at any time and now that he knows that I have them, I cannot put them in my car or they could
search it.
I am still in shock and disbelief at this point because to me it was so innocent. So, I took the plastic bag of casings across the street from our building and put it in a ditch. I wrote
myself a note and taped it on my steering wheel so I would remember and pick them up after work that night. I figured I was now good to go.
Well………lo and behold, I leave work at the end of the day to come out to the parking lot and I see a street resurfacing crew tearing up
the street and they are right by the ditch where I left the bullets. There were several pieces of heavy machinery right there moving dirt and I knew for sure the idea of getting my bag of bullets was long gone. They have to be buried in dirt and asphalt by this point.
I
was so distraught – I was about ready to cry. I was bound and determined to get more casings, so I looked up in the phone book to see if there was a gun shop in this small town where I work, and I went on my lunch hour the next day, found what I wanted, purchased the casings, left them there to come back and pick up after work (explained to the old man why I couldn't take them with me at that time) and I made what you have today.
The original ones were all tarnished and I was in love with them, but hopefully the new ones will get tarnished sometime. So, something so simple could have cost me my job, but never my spirit. I hope you enjoy wearing the "Long Lost Bullet".


Thank you Kathy for the beautiful pendant. I shall cherish it ~ especially after hearing what you had to go through to create it.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sights & sounds of Christmas


Christmas is fast approaching. I love the sights and the sounds of the season, don't you?
The 12 Days of Christmas Swap is about to start (this Saturday ~ yay!) that's gonna be fun. This is the third year I've participated in the swap, and every time I get very antsy waiting to open the treasures the other artists in the swap have sent my way.
And usually we have our tree up by December 1st. This year however, I haven't got around to it yet. Yep, I've been rather slow this time round. We have a few Christmas items out of the boxes, but no tree yet. Who knows, maybe this will be the year we actually get a real one. I really do miss the scent of a real tree in the house.

I hear that the weather's supposed to get real cold come this weekend. They're throwing around predictions like -24 degrees Celsius ... and that's the HIGH for Sunday. For Fahrenheit enthusiasts, that's -12 degrees! Oh the low will be -30 Celsius or -22 Fahrenheit. Brrrr! I'm not ready for temperatures like that.
Guess this would be a good opportunity to wrap some gifts and hibernate indoors with a piping hot mug of hot Chocolatey Chai Tea and enjoy the sights and the sounds of Christmas time ... indoors!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Done

It's official folks. I am a winner for the second year in a row of the National Novel Writing Month thingie. And look at the ultra cool and amazingly nifty banner that I can add to my blog's sidebar now.

Tonight I will celebrate this great victory by attending a Christmas Concert in which my son David will be singing in his university concert choir (along with a bell choir).

Tomorrow I will contemplate the idea of actually finishing off my Faux Gogh chair and awaiting the First Day of the 12 Days of Christmas Swap.

There's no snow on the ground, but I am trying to get into the mood for Christmas. Now that nanowrimo is over for another year, my head feels as though it is suddenly starting to clear after living in a continuous fog for the past few weeks.

Stay tuned for more fun ~ and I promise to post more now that the nasty month of November is coming to an end.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Still here ... still writing

Hi, it's just me checking in to say hi to you all. I totally apologize for my nonexistent postings as of late. As many of you know, I do this incredibly crazy thing in November called NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). The basic premise is to write a novel of at least 50,000 words in 30 days. I'm a member of the Edmonton branch ~ along with my hubby and two sons ~ of this insane little project, the EdMoWriMos.
Writing a novel, along with a 2 day job that has turned into a much longer commitment has made posting on my blog a rarity, indeed. My novel's word count as of this evening is 26,707 words, so I'm over halfway there. Yay me!
So my ever-patient blog adherants, hang in there. Once NaNoWriMo is completed, (I'm creating 2 awards for the Thank God It's Over Party -- ohh the pressure!) I will start in on the 12 Days of Christmas Swap play-by-play; showing you the wonderful treasures I've received as I open them every day.
Oh! And I still have the fourth panel (Irises) of my Faux Gogh chair to complete. I hope to have that done before we decorate our Christmas tree. So much to do! Agh!!!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Faux Gogh Chair part 4

For everyone that guessed what we would have on the back of my Faux Gogh ... here's what it is. Zachary finished the preliminary drawing on the back of the chair ~ he did an awesome job!

Now I can't wait to get down to the nitty gritty of painting the last panel. Zach, though, reminds me that I still have the bottom of the cushion still to complete and to do the bottom of Arlene's Faux Gogh chair.

After I complete this chair, I'm considering the possibility of painting and selling other Faux Gogh chairs (purchasing new chairs from Ikea and going from there). What do you think?

Stay tuned ....

Monday, October 06, 2008

Ever train a Border Collie?


It's a very long story, but in short, we helped rescue a 7 month old Border Collie cross late this spring; cared for him and found a home for him on a sheep ranch. Sparky came to us totally untrained. Greg & Zach started training him, but he was not interested in the least to "sit" and "stay". He would jump up on everyone as soon as they came into the backyard. (I think Zach was saying "Down, down, down Sparky" in his sleep, for a while there). However, Zach did discover that the dog would sit if there was a cheese bribe involved.

It was hard to let Sparky go, but we knew for his sake and the sake of our backyard, he needed a LOT more room to run and jump and do all the things a Border Collie needs to do. Thankfully Jessica contacted us. She was looking to train a dog to herd her sheep. We drove Sparky out to the farm about an hour and a half out of the city to his new home.

We've kept in touch with Jessica from time to time to see how Sparky's doing. At first he was really thrilled to be with other dogs and loved making great discoveries like sheep poop in the grass. The other day, Jessica said in an email that Sparky is finally not chasing the sheep and goats unless he's asked to.

Which brings me to the photo on this post. This is a photograph of Sparky on the right and a pencil drawing that Zachary did of him on the left. I matted and framed it and now it's displayed on our "art gallery wall" in our livingroom next to the computer.

To see more adorable Border Collie hijinks, clink on this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zI7TN8q6ktk

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Welcome to my backyard


Autumn is my favourite time of the year. The smell is in the air, the earth is harvesting some of its finest fruits and everything is just sooo beautiful!

I would like to introduce the trees of our backyard to you. First we have an Aspen Poplar. A lot of people don't like poplars, but I enjoy this tree. We rescued this one from my husband's parents' acreage many years ago. It was about 6 feet tall and I could encircle it with one hand. When we transplanted it into our yard, we dreamt of the day when it would give shade. And it does. The Aspen is approximately 18 feet high. It also makes a beautiful rustling sound when the wind blows through its branches. Some native people call these trees "noisy leaf". I love that.

Our next tree is an Elm. One year, we noticed that a little birdie had planted a tree in our garden. So, instead of getting rid of the sapling, we decided to reduce the size of our garden to make room for a second tree. This beauty is now approximately 25 feet high. All the brilliant leaves have fallen off it now, but one of my gnomes stands guard at its feet.

Tree number three was yet another brilliant gift that fell from the sky into our raspberry patch in the northwest end of our garden. We decided immediately that we would sacrifice the raspberry bushes for a Mountain Ash Tree ~ one of my absolute favourites!

I recall about the second year the young tree was severely damaged when two young energetic boys who were visiting our house decided to sword fight the tree. They swatted off every single tender leaf that had grown on the Mountain Ash!

It was mid summer, and all that remained was a stick in the ground. We prayed that the tree would survive. And in the spring, we were thrilled to witness as buds started appearing on our precious tree. The Mountain Ash now stands about 10 feet tall. It's produced some beautiful berries for the birds to feed upon during the winter months.

What is your backyard like? Do you have trees that nest birds in the spring; give you shade in the summer months; turn brilliant hues in the autumn; and supply food for the birds during the winter?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Painting up a storm


The chair's not done yet.
I did another small painting anyway.
Here it is.
Hope you like it.

Friday, September 26, 2008

DIY ~ frugally


Over the next while, I plan to highlight some of the cool blogs that you can find on the right hand side of this blog under the heading Blog Favourites of Mine.

If you know me at all, you know that I have pretty good "frugality skills". I do appreciate any new inspiring resources that can that can assist me and my family economically. Some time ago, I discovered an intriguing blog called Frugal Upstate. The author of the blog, Jenn, is a stay-at-home-mom and a self-confessed "frugalite". She offers scads of practical ideas, and her site's dedicated to helping readers (are they called blogees?) to save moolah while still living a good life.

One of the gems she shared in one of her posts was how to make homemade laundry detergent. It's super simple (only 3 ingredients) to make, it's incredibly cheap, the clothes wash beautifully and smell wonderful! See the little cup next to the bar of soap in this photo? That's how much you use of this soap per load. I'm impressed. Good bye Tide detergent!
By the way, you can see Jenn demonstrate Detergent Making on YouTube too. Obviously folks are looking for ways to save money these days, so I encourage everyone to check out the Frugal Upstate blog and tell her ART of Humungous Proportions sent you. Oh! And try out homemade laundry soap. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Panel 3 already?


I know, I know. What happened here? Panel two isn't even finished yet, and here's another drawing on the chair? Well, it's like this: my son Zachary made me an offer I couldn't refuse. He volunteered to draw panel 3 for me today, so all I have to do now is paint it!

As you can see the painting I chose for panel 3 of my Faux Gogh chair is Noon Rest from Work, painted by Van Gogh in January 1890. I've always loved this painting. The intense colour, the subject matter, everything. Everything, that is, except for the man's face. I've often wondered if the man's face was ever finished or not. To me, it seems somehow of lesser quality than Van Gogh's usual standard. Not to worry folks, I shall try to improve upon it! *Wink*

Zach did an awesome drawing don't you agree? It's a very detailed drawing, so it's going to be fun painting this panel. I wonder if he'll offer his "sketching services" for the back of the chair as well! Can anyone guess what I've chosen for the back panel?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Chair on the 4th day of painting



Here's a little coup d'oeil of the second panel of my Faux Gogh chair. I just love the poplar trees in Van Gogh's Two Poplars on a Road Through the Hills (1889) painting. I find some of the original painting a bit boring visually though ~ sorry Vincent ~ so I'm improvising quite a bit on this panel.

Don't you love the autumn colours, and how they look, juxtaposed against the dark blue sky? This is my favourite time of the year and I think it's appropriate that I'm painting this autumn-ish panel while the leaves are turning brilliantly outside my window.

Most of panel two is finished, but there are a few more details to paint still. This Van Gogh sure had talent; did I mention that before?! Stay tuned ...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Chair Day 3


It's kinda late for me cuz I've got to get up at 5 a.m. so I have time to just post a photo for you, so you can see how my Faux Gogh chair is progressing.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A glimpse of things to come ...


I had bought a wing back chair a few weeks ago. This chair is for our home. Yesterday, I started the adventure of painting my second Faux Gogh chair.

After a rather lively family discussion, it was mutually decided that I should try something other than Starry Night on the front panel and seat, because I had been there, done that (ie., Arlene's Faux Gogh chair). So my task was to pour over Van Gogh paintings to try to figure out what would be the best choices for our chair.

One painting in particular caught my eye, which I think fits the style and proportions of the $19.99-Salvation-Army-Special that I'm painting this time round. It's called Wheat Field with Rising Sun. I love the colours, the movement and the title ~ which I shall rename Wheat Field with Dawn. (Note: there are mountains in this painting too, and since I'm a native British Columbian, it seems even more appropriate).

In case you're wondering, I'm not trying to paint an exact replica of Van Gogh's work ~ just my impressions of Vincent's impressions.

Anyway, here's a glimpse of the chair. This is very rough looking still as there will be a few more layers that need to be added before it's completed. However, I can see already that I'm going to really enjoy this project.

Also, I'll "re-realize" what an absolute master Vincent was. His work was powerful, dramatic and uniquely imaginative. Pure genius.

One must work and dare if one really wants to live. ~ Vincent Van Gogh 1853-1890

Monday, September 15, 2008

Inspiration strikes


Inspiration.
Sometimes, it's a hard thing to find.
But I admit, it's much, much easier when you spend time in a book like this one. Look at the treasure that Arlene gave me the other day.
Van Gogh ~ The Complete Paintings. What an awesome book!
I spent ages looking through it with my piping hot cup of Passion Tea the other night.

And then yesterday, I painted what this Gladiola & Sunflower Faux Gogh acrylic painting. It will go up for sale at the Wild Blue Yonder Gift Show, hosted by the ever-lovely Bessie & Bea on October 24th & 25th.

I'm no Vincent, but it's fun to play with some of his techniques.

Next, I need to start thinking some inspiring ideas for my 12 Days of Christmas Swap contribution. Mail out day for that swap will be here before I know it. I also want to start painting on my chair THIS WEEK.

All this and looking for a new job ~ Methinks I need a 72 hour day!