Sunday, February 27, 2011

I should really get some stuff done today.

But I don't really feel like it.

Oh well.  There's always tomorrow.

Friday, February 25, 2011

You Betty Believe It
I've written before about my friends who lost their mom Betty,
who was a terrific crafter/card maker/painter/sewer/stamper.
Betty is the mother of my friend Jody, who has appeared here in many stories,
a lot of times (but not always named).
She is one of my favorite peeps of all time.  
The kind of peeps that hardly a day goes by without calling, texting, emailing, or meeting -
at least once a day. 
Who calls at the same exact moment I reach for the phone to call her.
The kind of peeps that took me bar hopping one day
when I really, really needed to drown my sorrows,
and then never left my side when I got sick all night long.
Who has been an incredible source of support and encouragement, inspiration and laughter.
The kind of peeps that finally has a new place to dream about her creative pursuits... her new studio!

Today five of us girls (and Truffles the studio dog) had our first creating day in her new studio,
making greeting cards, eating fancy salads she made for us, and toasting with a glass of wine.

The picture below shows Betty's stamps displayed in their new organizer.
Look closely at the corner shelf on the left...
there's Betty in the black and white picture, watching over the stamps.
Isn't that neat?

I couldn't wait to show a picture of my new apron sewn by Jody's sister Terry,
made from Betty's fabric and trims.
Have you ever seen such a fun and sassy apron, ever?
I just love it so much.  I really do.

And I love you gals too.
I really do.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Feeling old nostalgic on my birthday yesterday,
 I got out my childhood photo album.

Then I decided everybody needed party hats.


(It's a little hard to see details in these pictures I took of the collages, 
but my husband promised me a new fancy camera for my b-day!)

This collage includes an altered photo of my sister and I,
sharing afternoon tea with our doll.
Wonder where we were off to next...looks like we brought along a suitcase.
Collage on 5" X 5" Canvas
The Little Sister
The Big Sister

My heart skipped a beat when I saw this picture of my Grandpa and me.
I hadn't seen it in a really long time.
I think "bliss" captures the pleased look on my face.

Collage on two 3" X 3" Canvases

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

It's My Birthday!
Today the mail guy delivered a box to my door.
It was a colorfully wrapped birthday present from a special friend,
who knows my heart inside and out.
This past year she has patiently listened and offered wise advice;
words that affect my life and art every day.

Inside the package was a beautiful collaged box that she made for me!

The lid of the box says "Practice happiness",
something she knows I've really been working on.
Also on the box she has added acorn caps, a handmade clay leaf, wood rope trim, bird charms, lovely papers, the definition of happiness, and a handwritten note on the bottom.
Inside the lid is a quote by Henry David Thoreau:
"If you want to be happy, be."

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Today I stuck my head out long enough to capture a few wintry shots.

Hope you enjoy them!

Snow Dog
(wondering what we're doing outside on a day like this)



Snow Plow

Snow Cat
(NO WAY he'd step foot outside on a day like this)

Sometimes if you stare at your clutter long enough, innovation happens.

I scored this old cottage window frame at the dump when we were up north one weekend.
(Oh gosh, has that been two years ago already?  I think it has.)
It's been in our garage since then, propped up between the recycling bins and our bicycles.
Those black metal clips were left over from a work project.
(Oh gosh, has that been nine years ago already?  I think it has.)
They've moved with us from place to place, hoping one day to be useful for something.
Well, I...
  • picked out some of my favorite papers and taped to the back of the frame
  • pounded big-headed nails into the window frame and hung the clips from the nails
  • placed in a handy spot, hanging on my studio wall
  • putzed around looking for cute stuff to clip in there so I could take the picture
A free message board!  Almost like I planned it that way.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


I snapped this picture as I was leaving my friend's house today.

We're gearing up for a doozie of a snowstorm starting Sunday morning.
They're talking 9 to 14 inches of white stuff, along with nasty wind.

I'll be hunkered down and watching from my studio window.
Don't have to be anywhere or do anything.

Kind of looking forward to being snowed in.
Sssssshhhhhh...don't tell anybody I just said that.

Friday, February 18, 2011

I had a night on the town with three wonderful ladies. 

We went to see a produciton of Phantom of the Opera
by The Central Wisconsin Educational Theatre Alliance,
which joins together the drama programs of area high schools
and home-schooled students. 

We were blown away by the talent of these high school students
in our little neck of the woods.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

"You will have to experiment and try things out for yourself,
and you will not be sure of what you are doing.
That's all right;
you are feeling your way into the thing."
-Emily Carr

I adore the old-fashioned version of Cut and Paste.
The unplugged kind, with real scissors and glue.

A perfect day for me is to sit amongst my stash of magazines and papers,
 teensy manicure scissors in hand.
*snip, snip, snip*

I love arranging pieces and parts.
Finding a new use for an old shape.
Adding a stroke of whimsy, something unexpected.   

Makes me take a second look at stuff before I toss it...
Check it out!  When you flip this label upside-down, it looks like a house!
I really have to be careful cleaning out my purse.
I may have had a plan for that Starbucks cozie cup holder thingy.
A crown for my Collage Queen!!   

Once stuck on collaging, trust me...
you never look at scraps the same way again. 

Quote found in "Creative Illustration Workshop for Mixed-Media Artists" by Katherine Dunn

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sometimes I'm a big ol' sap.
As I clumsily plod along, finding my way,
motivation often arrives from the teeniest, most random occurrences.
I had an inspirational event last night as I grabbed a magazine to read before going to bed.
Gently sliding out from the pages for me to discover was this:

tiny wooden sign
I was delighted to have been given a sign telling me I'm on the right path!
A talisman reminding me to keep the faith!
A tiny random happening to make me take heed and grin! :)

Then my logical left brain reminded me that my friend brought an assortment of little objects for collage making, including these little wooden signs, when she was here for a studio day last Sunday.  Before she left, we cleaned up all the artistic clutter and put everything back in its place.

It's way too rational (and to think that this token
was accidentally swept into the magazine
while we were cleaning. 
The very same magazine I just happened to pick up last night,
out of the zillions of magazines in my collection. 
I like to think it was a sign from above.
Corny?  Sure.  But it gets me through the day.

Monday, February 14, 2011

This Valentine's Day
I woke up with love on my mind,
a cat on my chest,
and a dog at my feet.

10" X 12" collage on watercolor paper
 I'm not a morning person.
But mornings at my house are made sweeter
waking up to a bed full of purring and snoring critters.

 Love Is
A Purring Cat
A Snoring Dog
 And a Fine Husband.

Hugs and kisses to all the gentle souls I love waking up to.

Friday, February 11, 2011

This evening I found out some really exciting news...

My artwork was chosen to be in the 2012 Cloth Paper Scissors Calendar!

Congratulations to all those who entered the contest!
It is really courageous to put yourself and your artwork out there.
I know this.
I miss hearing the birds sing.

I miss watching them twitter about in the bush
just outside the bathroom window.

In warmer months, my cat lays on the windowsill
and silently stalks them.  He probably just wants to play.

That's what he was doing this Fall
when I snapped a picture of a little bird calmly perched on a branch.

Maybe the little bird was storing up energy
for the long flight South.  Or waiting for a friend.


Today I hope the little bird is basking in balmy tropic air,
having a rest on a pink hibiscus that's blooming by a tall palm tree.

Dear Little Bird:
Wish you were here.  This Fall when I hear you fluttering about in the bush outside my bathroom window, I'll know you're about ready to leave on your trip South. My bags will be packed. Bring your sun compass and hop in, I'll drive.

Inspiration & Technique:

After reading a post on a fellow artist's blog about transfering and painting a photograph on fabric , I wanted to try this technique.  I printed my bird photo onto a thin piece of fabric, then altered it with acrylic paint. 

Not sure if this is the finished product yet.  Oh wait!  Just realized I need to add some bird legs.  Then I think I'm done.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I’m no foodie.
Not into exotic ingredients.
Or trying things I can’t pronounce.

I really have to exert quite a bit of effort to make recipes work.
I think it’s because I’m stick-to-a-recipe-challenged.
Yeah, that’s definitely it.
I always think substitutions and shortcuts will work out.
Most often, they do not.

But I’m no quitter.
Last night I made a pasta dish that was scrumptious,
and thought I’d share the recipe,
along with my stick-to-a-recipe-challenged substitutions and shortcuts.

Awhile back I tore a page out of my People magazine that featured a pasta recipe adapted from Scarpetta restaurant in Miami. The article said Beyonce and Jay-Z loved this dish, so I figured if famous people like it, it must be good.  The headline said "best pasta ever!"

Here’s my adaptation of this adapted recipe:

Spaghetti with Fresh Tomato Sauce and Basil

  • 1/3 c extra-virgin olive oil (I skipped this, see note on plum tomatoes)
  • 20 ripe plum tomatoes, peeled, halved and seeded (Woah. After peeling the first little tomato, I realized I didn’t allow enough time or patience for this step. Emergency Substitution: a few cans of diced tomatoes)
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper (Great Value iodized table salt worked just fine. Just sayin’)
  • 1 TBS unsalted butter (Oh man. Well I already used the wrong salt, so what’s a little more salt added to the mix?)
  • 1 oz freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, about 1 cup (“fresh” means 'use by the expiration date printed on the jar', right?)
  • 6 to 8 fresh basil leaves (Oh shoot…my basil is buried under a foot of snow. A few shakes of dried flakes from the spice bottle did the trick)
  • 1 lb spaghetti (or a generous fistful)
Now just follow my instructions. Or not.
  1. Throw the diced tomatoes in a skillet, juice and all.  Allow to simmer for about 20 minutes or so. Give it a good stir once in awhile so it doesn’t scorch. The goal is to thicken it a bit.
  2. Cook up the spaghetti until almost al dente.  Drain. Keep some of the noodle water for step 3.
  3. Mix the sauce and noodles together. Cook a little bit longer, until the noodles are done to your liking. Add a smidge of the cooking water if sauce is too thick. That was a tip from the recipe – I thought it was such a clever idea.
  4. Remove from heat. Toss in butter (Um, I don't remember adding the butter yesterday so I guess it's ok to leave it out if you want to), basil and cheese. What the heck, toss in the whole jar of cheese while you’re at it.  Hey, I’m a Cheesehead baby.
I'm naming this dish
Second Best Pasta Ever: Spaghetti with Canned Tomato Sauce and Dried Basil

If you're not stick-to-a-recipe-challenged (HOW do you DO it?)
and would like the original adaptation of this recipe,
just let me know and I’ll get it to you.

I can only imagine how delicious this dish is
when the recipe’s stuck-to.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

We live in the boonies.
Suits us just fine.

That is, until we need to make a cell phone call on a hilly road ("can you hear me now?").

Or quickly look up something on the internet (tick tock...go make myself a snack...tick tock).

No 3G here.  No DSL, cable or radio internet for us. 

To make a frustrating story pleasant, check out what I was doing today
while a satellite technician was here for four hours
troubleshooting my excruciatingly slow connection...

Yup, I was studying the ice crystals on our upstairs bathroom window.
Do you see birds spreading their wings?  Angels in flight?
Oh.  You just see ice crystals on our upstairs bathroom window?  Hmmm.

That's what my husband said too.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Super Bowl from an artist's perspective:

Green Bay Packers...
Pittsburgh Steelers


Friday, February 4, 2011

Today as I was rummaging around in my stash of vintage ephemera
(really old books, calendars, greeting cards, invoices, journals, letters,
newspapers, photos, school papers, stencils, and the like),

I opened a small unadorned, unassuming, unmarked envelope...

and out popped a zoo of vintage cardboard spool animals!

Seriously, how dang FUN are THESE??

Pardon us, Mr. Vintage Cardboard Spool Elephant...

And you too, Ms. Vintage Cardboard Spool Dog...

 ...while we look at your butt stamps.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


#10.  He's the perfect blend of snuggly and self-reliant.

#9.  He looks just like his predecessor, Spaz.

#8.  He's a lover, not a fighter.  Most definitely not a mouser.

#7. He snuggles next to me on the electric blanket and purrs, purrs, purrs.

#6. His tail is about three inches too long for his body. It slowly wags when he is pleased and contended.

#5. He lets out a long MEEEEEOOOOW when he's flipped on his back. Every time.

#4.  His lips turn up in a smile. Until he’s flipped on his back.

#3. He snores.

#2. He really serves no purpose other than to amuse those around him.

The #1 Thing I Love About My Kitty Kat?
He thinks I'm #1.
He looks at my husband and wonders what that other guy is doing in his house.

Close-Ups & Techniques:
5"X5" canvas.  Photo printed on cardboard, altered with acrylics.
Adhered to canvas with gel medium.  Molding paste on sides.

8"X10" canvas.  Photo printed on vintage grain receipt, altered with acrylics.
Adhered to canvas with gel medium.

4"X4" canvas.  Photo printed on cardboard, altered with acrylics.
Side pattern created with rubber comb and stamp.

In my next life, I want to be my cat.
*Smooches to you, K-K-Poo!*