Sunday, January 27, 2013

Debrina Pratt's Tea Party

Way back in October or so I signed up and paid for the tutorial and materials with Debrina Pratt of The Land of Enchantment fame to make this sweet little shadow box.  I wasn't really creating much at the time then I had to start thinking about the holidays at the shop and with family so this kept getting set aside.  The tutorial was online but when I finally grabbed that box o' fun last week to make this the tutorial was no longer there.  Fortunately, I still had a photo of what is was generally supposed to look like and, with a few pieces left over (guessing all the way), voila!  Her things are just so adorable and it was fun to do. I have really been cranking up the creativity level and it's helping me feel a lot more productive and "up".   I'll have more to show and tell again soon.  Thanks for stopping in!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

New creations for the new year

So I mentioned a couple of posts ago that since I'm not doing school this semester I wanted to spend my time creating.  These lamps are my favorite kind of project.  I love re-doing lamps.  These are true antique, lovely blue glass lamps that I bought on eBay. They came with the original cracked vinyl shades.  I re-wired the lamps, then stripped the shades, and had a lovely time adding the crystals, flowers, and ribbon.  I love the way they turned out.
Last weekend I covered and embellished some small address/memo/journal books, made some new hand mirrors, and Valentine hangers ("Find the key to your heart").

Same themes, different colors.
Similar themes, different colors.
I adore working with paper.  Recently I've gotten back into making memory boxes.  Love layers.
Okay, I made this "everyday" paper cake a little while back but had to add it-paper and embellishments-how fun is that?
I did just post a photo of this sweet box I made recently already but still wanted to include it here.
More boxes.  The one on the left is another cigar box, the right one is a small, whimsical one for gifts or a special touch in a perfect spot.
I've made gift baskets for years.  This year I decided to make Valentine boxes filled with Valentine goodies that can be used to keep your cards.  I recently read a quote that went something like this, "Art is the only way to run away without actually leaving." Amen.

Precious moments...many

There's a reason why I love this photo.  I have it in color on the cover for my laptop.  Llamas have a huge warm spot in my heart.  It's time for me to tell this story on my blog.  It's long overdue.
This is me four years ago visiting our family farm from my childhood. It was the first time I had been out there in many years.  It was very emotional.  This is the pier where my daddy and I fished off of all of the time when I was growing up. And not just weekends; it could be a Tuesday late afternoon right after he fed the horses and the other animals.  We fished several times a week.
I don't know if this was our boat but we had a one just like this that we would take out onto the tank and around the corner to a cove that you can't see on the left.  I remember watching the movie Passion Fish and at the end she is sitting in the metal boat and the water is splashing and the emotion of remembering that sound had a profound affect on me.  It was the exact sound I had heard so many times; no other sound other than the water splashing against the side of the boat.  Oh to hear that again...
This is from the same visit.  This was our cabin on the farm. It did not look like this, of course, when we had it; it has been in a state of disrepair for many years now.  After my dad sold the farm, the man who bought it turned it into a paying zoo.  The cabin was made into a concession stand.  When we were here three years ago there was a very old man living there. He wanted so very badly to do a lot with the land but had no one to help and he was not in good health. I plan to look into what the status of the farm is during my trip there next month.
This is me with our first llama, Chupi.  I'll start the long story now.  In 1968 my mom and dad put my sister and me in the car and told us they were taking us to show us a surprise. We were suspicious because we had been tricked into going to the dentist and/or the doctor for shots this way. We pestered them with questions the whole way out there.  We had a home in town, Bryan, Texas, the home I grew up in but, unbeknownst to us (including my mom), my dad had had a lifelong dream of having an exotic animal farm.  When we drove up that first time all that was there was only a bunch of tall grass, a tank, and the run-down cabin. We didn't know what to think but it seemed exciting-something new anyway.
The first animals to arrive were our first llama, Chupi; two pygmy goats, and two barbados sheep.
This is Penelope, my daddy's favorite llama.  We had many over the years but none got as close to my daddy's heart as Penny did.
This is a photo was taken by my dad with me and the goats as was written by my dad on the back on the photo, below.  The goat, Joe Willie, was named after Joe Willie Namath.  These photos should explain why I love the smell of zoos and county animal smells in general, wonderful memory smells.

This is one of many photos that were taken during one of the rare snows we had while we had the farm.  Two of the herd of llamas we had by then.
One of my favorite photos-of the tank in the snow with the swans swimming on it.
Just to the left of the building is one of the lot of wallabies, the small breed of kangaroos.  This was their little house to keep them from wet or harsh weather.
Old Ed, my daddy's favorite kangaroo.  
A herd of Mouflon sheep with their majestic horns.
Wallabies.  Check out the fences and in the left corner is a loft for them.
One of the bridges Dad built, the best because it allowed us to look out over our large tank and not get bit by the swans. (That's my sister, Valori, Greg Stiles, and me on the bridge.)
One of the grown ostriches. 
Last but not least, my favorite of all the animals, this is Tommy, the Thomson gazelle we had.  He was just the sweetest. (Jill Hyde feeding Tommy)

The list of all of the animals we had over the ten years that we had the farm.  Over those years my dad and his business partner, Ray, built thousands of feet of fencing, several bridges, many animal houses and stairs for the goats to enjoy climbing, a two story home for Ray and his family, and a place where our family got to experience all those years something quite rare.  In our little one room cabin we had a kitchen, bathroom, and a regulation sized pool table.  We had a great porch on that cabin.  We spent a lot of time every weekend and some during the week out at the cabin communing with the animals, fishing, and shooting a lot of pool. Every year in elementary and junior high my class got to ride the school bus out to our farm.  And, as my sister and I got older, we got to take friends and boyfriends out to enjoy amazing animals, shoot pool, and drink cold beer.  We had a very special family and were so blessed.  My mom has the album of all the photos of the farm which are many more than shown here.  Someday I will get to scan and add them.  The fun was endless and so are the great memories.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

This year.

 Okay, last spring I decided to make a big decision, to go back to school and finish my degree.  I went to college at the usual age but left for my Mrs. degree.  That's all I really ever wanted was to be, a wife and mother.  Who knew, way back when, that there was an expiration date on that ambition?  Okay, most folks, but not me.  I still have an-almost 16 year old at home but, after over 30 years of doing the wifey thing I've been having a mid-life crisis over what's next.  I've always wanted to be an official Aggie (I was born and raised there, breastfed in Kyle Field, bleed maroon, and have been an unofficial Aggie my whole life); get the degree, have the ring.  So I decided after 12 years of hiking uphill (but enjoyably so) trying to make a business of my art making, that going back to school was the answer.  Wrong.  Deja vu all over again.  I am not academic, never have been, I'm guessing I never will be.  I'm not destined to be one of those remarkable 60 year olds who walks across the stage, and, in my dreams, gets my ring on ring day inside the giant ring at Texas A&M University.  
After having a fabulous holiday season (my childhood family in Oregon at Thanksgiving and with my children at home for Christmas), you know if you have read my previous post, that the only cure for holiday hangover is to start checking Pinterest, magazines, my saved inspiration photos, and get my creative juices going and my head deep into paper and glue.  So far it has worked!  I sometimes get discouraged for, although the customers at our shop love looking at my creations, they are a little too conservative to actually understand what to do with them.  I think there's still a little mentality that hand-crafted means homemade which competes with Made in China as a real deal.  Plus, who can complete with China in price?  I would never even consider charging for my time; I just try to break even on supplies and keep my prices low.  Don't take any of this as resentment; the satisfaction of making something that appeals to at least me is priceless.  And being part of a group of women at The Pink Cabbage is wonderful.  Lots of creative women with a shared passion of offering unique items for our customers.  And, overall, we are very successful.
So, no school for me although, despite my aversion, I did well.  Maybe an art workshop in the future.  Definitely lots of paper and glue in my nearest future.  Until I finally get to trade our too-big house for a smaller cottage that would just make my year and certainly keep me busy in the best way.  But that's another dream for now...

Best holiday season that I can remember...

Well it's been since 2005 since I'd spent Christmas with all my boys but this was a first one that also included the girl in our family.  Kristen, Lucas' girl of six years travelled with Lucas from my hometown in Texas to be with us.  Kristen had been to NYC and Philly but never the Balto/DC area so she was in for a treat.  The whole week was one big treat for me.
First trip out was to the Baltimore Inner Harbor.  On our walk to the aquarium we spied this place, It's Sugar, and had to go in.  Poor owners, I think most folks go in there to just take pics but if we'd been doing stockings on Christmas this would have been where I'd have purchased the treats.  Next year...
In addition to the huge forms of every candy you can imagine, they had some really cute, funky displays.  It was fun.
Kristen had never been to a large aquarium before so she loved it.  It's the National Aquarium even though it's located in Balto.  It's the perfect locale because it's right on the Chesapeake.  It's a really nice aquarium but since Lucas, Matt, and I have been to the Monterey Bay Aquarium many, many times it's enjoyable but really doesn't compare.  Monterey has one of the best in the world plus the views.  Still enjoyable and we tried not to make too many comparisons for Kristen's sake.
The jellyfish exhibit is hypnotic.  They are just so strange and so wonderfully relaxing to watch.  We spent the most time watching them.
The next outing was to D.C.  Justin couldn't join us this day.  It was a cold, windy one so we decided to do the indoor things, the museums.  We really made the rounds; The Museum of Natural History, The Museum of American History, The National Gallery of Art, The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, and The National Archives.  We couldn't take photos in The National Archives but we got to see the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.  It's quite the set up, much like a cathedral; huge iron gates, the lights are dim so as not to damage the documents further.  They are very worn and faded as it is.  It has a wonderful dome ceiling with lots of cameras!  It's very reverent in there.  We got kicked out because Paul was chewing gum!

At the Museum of American History.  So meaningful especially so soon after we had seen the movie Lincoln.  This is his actual suit.

And the actual proclamation.
A favorite photo of mine.
Not a good photo and I couldn't get the color right as you can see...George Bush Drive is in my hometown of College Station, Texas where President George H.W. Bush has his library.  It's really maroon but I couldn't get it to show.  The symbol on the left is that of The City of College Station.  
We could all spend a whole day at the art museum.  I've always said I'd go and just spend a day so I could sit on the benches they have available to just sit and stare at the extraordinary works.
Lucas loves this museum the best too.  He could be left for the day and never notice...of course, Kristen would be in the next room and not notice either!
You see these on postcards and posters and cards but seeing them in person is just amazing.  Lucas was told by a dosset that there is a film placed over the paintings so the light and debris that people might bring in will not damage the art.

I wouldn't mind a print of this cutie.
Monet, Degas, Matisse, Gauquin, Michelangelo, Van Gogh, etc.

In between museums we went to a small restaurant for snacks next to where these brave folks were bundled up skating.  I found it more fun watching.
The next day, still chilly but much less windy, we all returned on the metro to see the outside sites.
This view just never gets old.
Though all of us except Kristen had been to Arlington Cemetery, we had a new reason this time for our visit...
...Kristen has a great-uncle (her grandmother's brother on her father's side) who is buried there.  We had never gone into the grave sites before, only to see the changing of the guards. It was a moving experience for all of us and very special for Kristen.
We had to run full force up hill from the grave in time to see the changing of the guards but got there just in time.  It was particularly moving for me since there had been so many photos going around on facebook showing how the soldiers refused to "stand down" during hurricane Sandy.  Honor Guard is truly an honor.
I've been here countless times but it's another thing that just never gets old.  There is a special feeling when in the presence of this huge reminder of the fine men who formed our great country.
After gift opening but before dinner on Christmas day, Lucas and Kristen headed out for 18 holes of disc golf at one of our local disc golf courses.  Still a little snow on the ground from Christmas eve.
Getting ready for that hella shot!
Taking a moment before digging in.  Happy mamma.
If you didn't have the holidays of your dreams as I did this year, take heed, it could take a few years but it's worth every minute when it finally happens.  The kids also got to see many old friends who where home for the holidays, one who just returned from Afganistan, and a lot who Lucas hadn't seen in a long time (we usually go to Texas to visit them, this was his first trip here in seven years).  Lots of reunions and happy times.  Happy new year everyone!!!!