Monday, January 28, 2008

Back on Track

I can't really say that I haven't done anything creative since before Christmas. I believe day to day living offers many possibilities for creativity. What I can say, however, is not one piece of artwork has made its way out of my craftroom since before Christmas. Until now.....Ta-dah!.....Meet Monique, an art doll that I completed yesterday.

Monique was inspired by a "Party Hat Doll" challenge in the Art Dolls sub-group over at ZNE--VariaZioNE Mixed Media and Indie Artists. I have to admit that she was, indeed, a challenge. I hadn't tried my hand at an Art Doll before Monique, and the challenge was immediate...where do I start? When in doubt, blindly jump in! That's my motto. And that's when the fun started. Slowly, at first, she developed. I couldn't have been farther away from knowing how she would end up. Sometimes it's just a "wait and see" process. I've heard dollmakers (and other artists) talk about how the doll (painting, collage, etc.) "tells them what it will be". I totally believe this and can even say that I have experienced it. Such was the case with Ms. Monique. Some beads here and there...ribbon...lace...and suddenly I could pronounce her 'all done'!

So here she is, an introverted book-lover by day, currently dancing the night away with her friends in the ZNE Art Dolls group (and listed in my Etsy shop). The assortment of the other "Party Hat Dolls" was amazing. All shapes and sizes, materials and personalities, and some kind of party hat to bring them together.

What a fun way to get back on track!


Friday, January 25, 2008

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Perfect Pancake

My youngest aunt is as cute as she can be! Actually, the five aunts from my mother's side who are still living are completely darling, but the youngest one makes me giggle.

She lives near Seattle (the city of my birth), as do her sisters and dozens of my cousins. We visited her there three summers ago. She has a way of flitting around her kitchen, cooking a meal, juggling a grandbaby, answering a phone call and talking to her visitors all at once.

One morning she was whipping up a hearty breakfast when we asked about helping with the cooking and, in typical fashion, she replied, "Oh, no, you just sit at the table and relax, you're on vacation, do you want a cup of coffee?" Pancakes were just one of the things on the menu and that morning was when we learned about the pancake mix she uses. "I never used to be able to make pancakes, never! Ask the kids. I always messed them up. Until I found this mix...all you do is add water...perfect everytime...and they taste GOOD." She was right. They tasted great!

The next summer, another visit, and the pancake story again.
This past summer when we went, my two daughters were with us. We all heard the pancake story. But this time we were sold. Before leaving for home, we purchased four bags of the "perfect everytime mix" to bring back with us. Two for us and one each for the girls to have at their houses.

Two weekends ago, we finished off one bag and lamented having just one bag left. Sigh. Couldn't there be a source closer than 1900 miles away? Well, sorta. I only had to go as far as my front door because, last week, that little cutie of an aunt mailed us a bag of that perfect pancake mix for Christmas! Along with a Happy New Year card and a note she wrote laughing at herself for finally mailing it to us on the 14th of January. As if it mattered! In our mind, it was a miracle! It was amazingly thoughtful and a much loved gift.

Now, over a week later, we are still giggling about that package. First of all the timing, how did she know? And then the fact that she had wrapped it within an inch of its life to make sure it arrived safely (now I know where I get that trait). And it cost her $18 to send it priority mail. Do we feel special? Oooooh, you betcha!

Didn't I tell you she's cute?!


Monday, January 21, 2008

Need to warm up your January? Attend a wedding!

We went to my nephew's wedding Saturday night. He married a really sweet woman--no surprise, he's my nephew. The wedding was in St. Louis and the temperatures were what one would expect in January, and that is freezing!

However, there's nothing like a wedding to warm a soul. Love is everywhere! The young couple, of course, is just bursting with love for each other. Everyone is celebrating the couple's love and new union. Maybe, too, some are remembering and celebrating their own gifts of love. New families are created and friendships made. It really does warm the cockles of a heart. And so, (yes, before Saturday night I'm not sure I would have said this) a cold January day is a wonderful time for a wedding! Who'd a-thought?!


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Girls just wanna have fun!

Don't these gals look like a fun-lovin' trio?! I bought this post card at a nearby antique mall. The postmark reads Kansas City, MO, October 15 , 1917. It was written by a woman, named Willie, to her "Homefolks" living in a rural town that is now about an hour's drive (on the interstate) from Kansas City. She notes that she is having a good time and will be coming home Tuesday night.

I started wondering about Willie's life and the lives of other midwest women in those days. I most often imagine it as one filled with work, work, work...and I don't doubt that it was. I do wonder, however, if those same hard working women took a break once in a while and just let loose! I'm guessing that they did. The times may have been different, but a woman's spirit couldn't have been so different just 90 years ago, could it?

Now, I'm not saying for sure that Willie was in Kansas City in October, 1917 letting loose. But she was having a good time and she bought a postcard with a picture of three free-spirited, tree-climbing women on the front. That's enough for me. Willie, you go girl!


Thursday, January 10, 2008

Looking at the bright (or candlelight) side

We lost power at our house for a couple hours the night before last. This happens often. No apparent reason. Just happens.

I refuse to take it personally when it happens, even though the houses to our right continue to shine brightly (in a mocking sort of way). Who thinks up those grids or sectors or whatever you call power dividing lines? Why does it start/stop right in the middle of a block?

I refuse to take it personally because look what I would have missed if we had been part of the radiantly-favored? You just can't beat the romantic glow of candlelight!

However, I was home alone at the time, so I decided to read, Abe Lincoln style. I had new issues of two favorite magazines, a furry little cat and a blanket to cuddle up with--not a bad way to spend an evening.

I even spent time just looking at the candles and the way the light danced on the hearth of our fireplace.

I noticed, too, how many different candle scents I buy. At first, I would catch a whiff of one scent or another but eventually all of the scents became one. Or maybe my already less than discerning smeller clocked out.

But enough is enough.

It was an OK evening. But two hours was long enough. The lights came back on, hubby arrived home (just MINUTES later--surely a coincidence) and Tuesday night as we know it, continued on.


Tuesday, January 8, 2008

A Visual Being

I'm a "visual" person. I largely experience the world with my eyes. Nothing unusual...I would guess that many creators of visual art experience the world that way. I'm a visual-learner. Again, nothing unusual--if I remember correctly, a large percentage of the population are visual-learners. I just wanted to acknowledge the fact that I am and remind myself what a joy it can be. There is so much around us to be seen and all we have to do is look. We can catalog an image in our memory, or with a camera, to call upon at a later date. Or we can enjoy it for a moment and be glad that we noticed.....

Rick and I love pottery. We bought three pieces on our trip to Santa Fe--a baking dish with a lid made by one artist and two colorful mugs made by another. We found a place in our kitchen for the baking dish right away. However, the mugs sat on a counter top for a while--until last night, when suddenly, it seemed so apparent where they should be displayed! I have been buying Fiestaware dishes for about eight years. I love the colors and I love the random look of our table when it is set with the dishes. Some of our Fiestaware dishes are kept in cabinets and some are out in the open on a baker's rack. The ones on the baker's rack are our current favorite colors and now the mugs are there also. It's perfect! The colors in the mugs fit well with the other dishes--like long lost cousins--and it is such a delight!


Saturday, January 5, 2008

I love trees!

I realize that I have been thinking a lot about trees recently. For example, the Christmas tree in our home...when and where to put it up, how to decorate it and when to take it down. The few weeks that it is up and decorated are pure enjoyment. I love Christmas trees!

I took along a little Christmas tree for our room in Santa Fe--little, as in 12 inches tall (short?), including the pot. I bought three locally-made tin ornaments from one of the Christmas stores near the Santa Fe Plaza for decoration and it was beautiful! I will always love that little tree--so many wonderful memories!

Then there is the huge tree in our backyard that is home to A LOT of squirrels, complete with knot holes that they climb in and out of. They fly from branch to branch like little acrobats and they're just hilarious! I don't know how much time I spend watching those crazy squirrels, but what a luxury! In the past month, several of the trees in our backyard, including this one, were damaged due to some fierce ice storms. We called a tree trimmer for an estimate to get the damage cleaned up. I was afraid he might say the tree needed to be removed as we thought it was basically hollow. However, much to my delight, he said it only needed some major pruning. What great news...I love that tree!

And just yesterday, Rick and I went to church to hang a Tree of Life art piece that we purchased in memory of his Aunt Mona. The piece was hand woven in India with natural and dyed cotton and jute fibers. We bought the piece at a non-profit, fair trade store and information came with it that says, "The Indian symbol for life, security and community is portayed in your wall hanging. In many Indian villages important meetings are held under the largest tree."

I did a small amount of research and learned that the Tree of Life is an ancient and universal symbol and symbolizes many things. My favorite is the Tree of Life as the life giving source that sustains and nourishes us and a symbol of growth. I think I'm going to start looking anew at trees and remember my desire for creative, personal and spiritual growth.

I love trees!


Thursday, January 3, 2008

More Santa Fe Inspiration

While in Santa Fe, on the day after Christmas (better known, in our family, as Rick's birthday), I visited the greatest rubber stamp store! How can you go wrong in a store named Guadalupe's Fun Rubber Stamps? It is located across the street from the Plaza in a building on the second floor with 3 or 4 other stores. I walked in and was greeted by Jess, a fun and friendly young woman. She loves her job and was extremely helpful. There were a half dozen or so shoppers in the store and she was anxious to show us some of the many rubber stamping possibilities. The store carries 100 different lines of stamps, but I chose to limit my purchases to the store's own StampaFe and Our Lady of Rubber lines, and a couple from Stamp A Mania (Las Cruces, NM). I can't wait to start playing!

And how is this for inspiration? Three different nights, three different skies...

Glorious! Isn't it?


Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Happy New Year!

What a better time to start a new blog than at the beginning of a New Year!

And what a better time to start a new blog than at a time when I am feeling full of inspiration! My wonderful husband planned a surprise Christmas getaway for us to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary, which was on October the 19th. He chose one of our favorite places--Santa Fe, New Mexico.

It was awesome! The rich light and magnificent skies warmly greeted us, just as they do in the summer months, but snow on the high desert landscape was new and exciting and beautiful!
The landscape and the spirit of the city...its art and architecture, its culture and food...are reasons we love Santa Fe. What an excellent place for rest and renewal.

And, oh, what it did for my creative urges!!! Oh, yes! I hope to be sharing pictures of the resulting art work very soon.

Until then, I am wishing you and your's a happy and healthy 2008!

May you find peace, comfort and joy in all of your creative endeavors.