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Monthly Archives: August 2011

Just a Peek at my Studio

Well, it’s sort of a studio. It started life as a “scrapbook” room, but has been slowly but surely morphing into a multi-purpose studio. Fortunately many of the “tools” and “supplies” I use can do double or triple duty…pliers, hammers, sizzix machine, stamps, ink, beads, paints, ribbons, wire, embellishments – they all make the leap from one type of art to another.

At this point in time, I’m not in any danger of being chosen as a participant in “Where Women Create” magazine! I have (or I should say I HAD) a clear vision for what I wanted, but just hadn’t found all the storage pieces I needed to make that vision a reality. So, I went with a lot more plastic than I wanted until I could find the perfect “old” pieces. But now, with a bit of a change in focus, I’m going to have to do some refiguring. Getting there is half the fun!

But, in the meantime, I have SOME pieces I love, and thought I’d share them with you.

This is the coolest, old rusty display case from a hardware store. It is PERFECT for storing my monograms…        metal, chipboard, acrylic. Love, Love, Love it!

I used the space behind the door, that would have otherwise been unusable, to put up cork boards for pinning up embellishments that I want to have close at hand.

Another of my faves…got this unfinished file cabinet, painted it with black milk paint, scuffed it up, stained it and found some cool knobs to finish it off. I use this to store stickers filed by subject and tons of stick on letters.

I use lots of paper, and have been unable to find anything “old” that comes anywhere close to housing paper as well as these plastic containers. I have learned to look past them (or cringe ever so slightly!)

Cool glass jars are perfect for buttons.

I have a pair of these awesome chairs, one on each side of my worktable. I had the table custom made, and when we were moving it into its new home discovered it wouldn’t fit through the door! We had to cut an inch off the table legs to get it in! Oy!

It’s really a nice workspace, and slowly, but surely, I’m finding the storage pieces I want that will keep things organized and easy to use, but also have that shabby, tattered ‘n worn look I love so much! In the meantime, it gets the job done, even if it’s not yet ready for prime time!

Do You Pinterest?

I’d been hearing little rumblings about Pinterest…a comment here, a link there, but I didn’t really get the point. Why would you want to “pin” pictures you like on the web onto a bunch of pages to look at? Seemed like a waste of time to me.

Then the group of gals I’m taking “flying lessons” with (no, not in airplanes, just soaring creativity!) started talking about all the cool ideas and great pictures they were seeing, so I looked into it.

Uh-oh…I’m still in the justification stages, so I’m not quite ready to admit it was a mistake. But I should have known to run when I saw this:

I mean, I’m aware that I have an addictive personality, but I really didn’t think that this was going to be a problem. I set up my pages, and began selecting photos that spoke to to me to “re-pin” onto my pages. I even figured out how to pin my own photos from other sources. Next thing I knew, I was a “curator,” curating my own pages. Sounds fancy, huh?

Then I started getting notifications that people I don’t even know were beginning to follow my pins. Huh! People liked what I was re-pinning, enough to want to see what I’m doing…it’s CRAZY!

Then I started seeing things that were keying me on to ideas for things I could make, or cook…I saw party ideas the kids would LOVE, and shoes…OMG, the most amazing shoes. I saw ideas for the garden, clothes I would just LOVE to be thin enough to wear, ideas for scrapbook pages, and cards…gorgeous vacation photos (I’m almost certain I need to go to France!) and saying after saying that either had me laughing or really thinking.

Once I realized my creativity was being tickled, I knew I was toast…now there was a reason why I NEEDED to pin. A justification to spend lots of time scrolling down page after page, making notes, pinning things onto my pages, following leads to recipes…

So, if you dare, come on over and see the things that interest me…it’s all kinds of fun, but keep in mind, it can be habit forming!

Day 6 Of My Incarceration

I broke my ankle last week. I wish I had a really cool story to go along with it, but the truth of the matter is I stepped wrong and cracked that little bone that sticks out on the outside of your ankle. First broken bone in my life and I’m not handling it well.

I guess they don’t cast you anymore until the swelling goes down, so I’ve been confined to my recliner, for the most part, and it might as well be jail. In fact, had I been contemplating a life of crime, I would now be “scared straight” because I know confinement is not for me and I’ll do whatever I can to avoid it!

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Fortunately we were able to improvise a walker when we got home from urgent care, using the foot stool from the patio set, so at least I was able to get around when I HAD to. See, there’s that creativity at work, again!

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Then I graduated to crutches, but to be honest, the quickest way around was hands and knees (which just cracked the kids up!) until I wore the skin off my knee, then it was back to crutches again.

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Unfortunately, it’s easier and safer just to stay put!

I’ve been a little grouchy about the whole thing because I’m used to being on the move, and my life isn’t set up for being an invalid. Everything (especially my art supplies) is all over the place, and too high for me to reach from a sitting down position, so being in the workroom isn’t practical.

I would have lost my mind had it not been for the on-line creative business class I’m taking with Kelly Rae Roberts (one of my favorite artists on the planet!) and the group of super talented women she has connected with a special Facebook page. A shout out to them “Thanks, guys! You’re preserving my sanity!”

So, the silver lining in all of this is that I’ve had time to work on our lessons, scour the internet for more information, add enhancements to my blog, set up an Etsy store for future use, and make copious notes for projects I want to work on when I regain my mobility!

Additionally, I have a whole new appreciation for what people who are permanently dis-abled have go to through to live their lives. I doubt I will ever take one of my limbs for granted again. And I will most definitely add good health and mobility to my gratitude list!

So, this creative journey has taken a little detour while I’m incarcerated, and hopefully with a little time off for good behavior, I’ll be on to projects and some things to show you before too awful long!

****FRIDAY UPDATE!!!!! I didn’t need a cast, just a boot! I’m so excited! In 3 weeks I may need no more than an ankle brace. This is VERY good news, and I’m feeling like a very lucky (and grateful!) girl!

Tapas For Dinner

I like to consider myself a “foodie.” I love good food, and by good food, I mean things that most people would find a bit odd. The more unusual the ingredients, the more apt I am to order it. Oh, and did I mention that I’m also a vegetarian-trying-really-hard-to-be-vegan? That limits the choices significantly. Most restaurants have a must have meat policy, and if you’re lucky you can find a salad where the meat is optional, or pasta w/ marinara sauce, or some incarnation of something loaded with cheese. Once in a blue moon you’ll find a restaurant that has a special vegetarian menu, and then even less frequently a vegan choice or two. It is not an easy thing to find truly good vegan food, unless you live in a very large city or hippie type village. Trust me on this, I’ve searched!

So, we’ve taken to cooking quite a bit, my daughter and I.

Through a series of odd happenstances, I came upon a cookbook called “The Blooming Platter,” by a gal named Betsy Dijulio. I “liked” her Facebook page, bought her cookbook, started cooking from it and posting to her blog and Facebook page my feedback on her recipes. We began chatting back and forth, and she ended up inviting me to her West Coast launch party for her cookbook in San Francisco, at a restaurant called Millenium, in the Hotel California on Geary St. just blocks away from Union Square.

She was just as amazing in person as she was on-line. And the food was DIVINE! Every bite was a thrill to my mouth. You know the kind of good where you smile every time you bite into something? And they paired each course with a different wine. My stomach is growling just thinking about it! But I digress… the point is, after such a fabulous dinner, we went into hyper-drive with trying new recipes, from Betsy’s cookbook, VeggieTimes and blogs on the internet. She’d cook at her house and bring me left-overs, and vice versa. Finally we decided to join forces and have a ‘tapas and wine tasting party” just for our two little families.

We selected the menu and my daughter set about researching and locating wines. Many of the ingredients we had on hand and then we shopped and shopped finding all more unusual things we needed. We each took on a dessert to prepare the night before, then planned to spend all the next day cooking. Well, as often happens with us, things didn’t go quite the way we had intended, and we ended up with only half a day to cook. Fortunately I got the jump on prep work ahead of time, so we weren’t too far behind.

We had more fun! We diced and sliced and sauteed and food processed our little hearts out, with our two little helpers by our sides. The oldest pushed crusts into the individual tarts pans like a pro, and the littlest dotted each macadamia shortbread topped with lemon mousse with a raspberry.

Sweaty and frazzled, and the kitchen looking like a bomb went off in it, we finally got everything to the buffet table, mostly hot, an hour later than planned.

It was a feast fit a king, if I do say so myself, although there was at least one among us who might have disagreed, maybe two, and one of those prefers stuff that requires a slathering of burn-your-mouth-hot salsa to more subtle tastes (he shall remain nameless – but those of you who know him can guess!)

Vegan “Cheddar Cheese Spread w/ Blackberry Chutney

Click here to see recipe

Collard Green Stuffed Phyllo Triangles

Risotto Stuffed Mushroom Caps

Grape Tomato and Spinach Pesto Tarts

Click here to see recipe

Macadamia Shortbread with Lemon Mousse topped w/ Raspberries

Betsy’s Recipes were far superior to the others. We’ll be heading back to her cookbook over and over, and can hardly wait for Vol. II (Hear that, Betsy?)

Oh, and the guy who wasn’t crazy about the food? He did most of the clean-up. Gotta love ‘im!

One more quick picture…I just LOVE my napkin holders! I couldn’t find any that were rustic enough to suit my crazy taste, so I bought a bunch of beads and wire, and made my own! When I open my Etsy store, I think these will be among the wares that I sell!

Gettin’ Creative With Food – Kid Style

Okay, so I’m on a mission to live life creatively, and not all that creativity is going to manifest itself in masterpieces.

A little background…I am a long time vegetarian, my daughter is vegetarian, and she is raising her daughters as vegetarians, as well. We have a higher than average appreciation for eating healthy food. Yet it still can be hard at times to get the little ones (ages 6 and 3) to eat healthy food with the same sense of gusto that they do the not-so-good stuff. I mean, even when you’re baking from scratch and using only organic ingredients, carbs are carbs, and living on them (or for them!) is not a good habit to get into. Somewhere in between the yummy low sugar muffins and fresh fruit, you still need some protein and veggies!

So what’s a Gaga to do?

I saw a recipe in a kids magazine for these cute cookie snacks. Yeah, cookies. They were made by taking a vanilla wafer, slathering on frosting, topping it with a chunk of a twix bar, adding a squished marshmallow on each side of the bar for wings, and striping it with thinned frosting to make it look like a bee. It was darling! But feed it to my girls? Not a chance!

So Gaga gets to thinking…creatively, of course. How do I turn this fun idea into something I would feel good about feeding my girls?

So, I started by getting out the whole grain crackers. Hmmmmm, what can I use for frosting? The oldest doesn’t much like hummus, so I got out a can of white beans, mashed them up, added just a bit of virgin olive oil, a little garlic powder and some spike (a multi-spice/herb seasoning) and made a pate. I used that to “frost” the crackers. The youngest is nic named Bea, so I made bees for her crackers, cutting the bodies and wings out of yellow soy cheese slices, and used sliced olives to “stripe” the bees. The oldest likes to be called “lady bug” but I couldn’t find anything red to make the body out of, so opted to make her dragonflies, instead. I used a sliver of raw zucchini for the body, and more of the cheese for wings, and Gaga’s “critter bites” were born! They devoured them!

Then they took the leftovers, plus some slivered carrots and began creating their own little structures to eat.

Next time I’ll get some red bell peppers and design lady bugs, but this worked. Little did they know they were eating protein and veggies, and I didn’t have to beg them to eat.

Yeah, this creativity thing is pretty cool.

Home Is Where Your Story Begins

In my last post I introduced you to my garden, so it follows that you should also meet my actual home before delving into the rest of my “story.”

5 years ago we moved away from the place that had been our home for 25 years. We were fortunate enough to be able to keep the house as a vacation home (it was paid for!) and buy a new one near our children and grandchild. As scary as it was to relocate, the upside was, I got to furnish from top to bottom and everything in between, with the exception of a few pieces I loved enough to incorporate in the new house. It was almost like getting married and getting everything on our gift registry! My tastes have changed a lot over the years, and it was great to be able update with shabbier stuff! How funny does that sound?

The down side was that I was not in the “creative mode” at the time so most everything I’ve decorated with is not my work, and that will have to change (or at least get added to!)

It’s a pretty unassuming little tract house; the perfect size for 2 people. But it’s major selling point for me was the location…tucked in at the bottom of a beautiful hill, so we get the illusion of country living in the outskirts of a big city, and only a mile from my kiddles!

My favorite room in the house is the “gathering room” right off the large, sunny kitchen. This is the place where we spend the most of our time.

It’s also where most of my “chickens” live! They roost above the entertainment center and over the cabinets all along the kitchen.  They hang on the walls and tuck into all the nooks and crannies.

They’ve even found their way into the entryway and the bathroom!

All of my little treasures have been found at little gift boutiques.

Some are handmade, and some are just mass produced, but so cute I couldn’t resist them.

I keep thinking I need to stop, but then I find another I just have to have, so I find a spot for it but then the area is a little off-balance so I need just one more thing to make it look right.

I can ALWAYS justify another chicken!

I really like the ratty looking table I found for the entryway. It has storage drawers, so it is practical, but it gives me yet another place to store my little treasures.

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, the authentic old bobbins. I’ve had them for 25 years, and they were old before that!

Wall words are another of my favorite decorator items.I have them in almost every room of the house!

          

My angels are right at home in my shabby guest room.

All of these have been purchased at little boutiques or craft shows.

But I have so many ideas for ones I want to create that I’m not sure where I will put them all!

I hope you’ll come back to check on my progress!

Well, like my tour of the garden, there is so much more to show you, but I’ll save it for another post.

Hope to see you soon!

This is me leaping!

I can now imagine what it is like to be a fledgling. I’ve gone to the edge of the nest many times. I’ve stood there and flapped my glorious wings. I’ve hovered just a bit. But now it’s time to leap off the side. My heart is beating furiously with a sense of both dread and adventure. I can hardly wait to begin my journey, but I’m so afraid. What if I’m just not interesting enough? What if no one cares about all the things that are dear to my heart?

I’m taking a course by Kelly Rae Roberts, “Flying Lessons.” And this is where I start. So do I close my eyes and jump, or leave them open so I don’t miss a second of the adventure? I think I’ll leave them open. Join me?

My garden is the place where I’ve spent most of my creative time recently, so I suppose that is as good a place as any to start. My “garden philosophy” is the same as in most areas of my life…nothing formal, lots of “tattered ‘n worn” stuff amidst flowers and plants that look more like they fell randomly into place rather than a “planned” presentation. When the birds scatter seeds and I suddenly find a foxglove or hollyhock in a place where I didn’t plant it, I find it exciting rather than annoying! If the balance is off, I move a few treasures or trinkets around to make it work, moving the plant only if there is no other choice. I like lots of “stuff” mixed in, tucked into the nooks and crannies or even taking center stage. The goal is to have my visitors find surprises everywhere they look.

This bunny family is one of my favorite treasures.The mama has lost her ear and had it glued back on more times than I care to remember, but her shabbiness is a testament to how much she is loved (ala Velveteen Rabbit, I think!)

The agapanthus is trying to push her out, and I may have to scoot her over a bit next year, but for now I love having her and her babies nestled into the plants.

I have loved the “Fairie Glen” figurines for ages, but never thought of putting them out into the garden until this year. No garden is complete without fairies inhabiting it. I haven’t figured out what I’ll do when the colors get faded by the sun (just repaint, or touch them up, huh?) But for now, I’m not worried about it. They are relatively inexpensive, so I’m okay with experimenting. Notice the pounded silver spoon that says “fairy garden?” That was one of my finds at an antique show a few months ago. Their selection of words was really small, and they didn’t accept custom orders, so as I do when I’m thwarted, I got on the internet and looked for a tutorial, went out and bought my supplies, and now I’m making my own!

I found this ratty old tool chest at my local antique mall, drilled holes in the bottom of it, planted herbs, and made a marker out of old silver spoons for each of the herbs.

Aren’t they just the cutest things?

I heard an awesome saying…”Anything worth  doing is worth over-doing” and I feel a major “over-do” coming on! I’m afraid that before long I’ll have markers for every plant in the garden!

I have lots more to show you, but I suspect this is enough for a first visit.

Your comments and suggestions are welcome, and I hope you’ll stop by often to see how I’m progressing in my efforts to live a creative life!

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