Sunday, December 30, 2012

Annual studio clean-up has begun!

Years of vintage button accumulation, finally all in one place.

Of course I had a million things to do today, the first day back after a week of traveling to be with our families for Christmas.  This button project wasn't on the priority list, but I couldn't stop once I got started.  Besides, it was fun.  More fun than anything on the priority list.

Monday, December 24, 2012

My friend Sarah and I had been wanting to do a fun snowy photo shoot for awhile. Last Saturday, a few hours after an impromptu morning text message, she was at my house, knee deep in snow as we took advantage of some unexpectedly perfect sunset lighting.

We didn't really have a plan in mind and ended up raiding my house for festive props...grabbed the ornaments and presents right from the living room tree! I'm a believer in the idea that most of the time the best things happen when you least expect them. Really pleased with the way these images turned out and there were such little prep work and preconceptions! In my heart of hearts I feel that the images genuinely reflect my personality and photographic style. That's super exciting and rewarding as an artist!

I'm writing this post from a rented cabin up north where we are spending a few days with my husband's family. Hoping the pictures on this post will not turn out blurry like the last time I tried to post remotely (fingers crossed). There's no high speed Internet at the cabin and I'm using my iPad...not an ideal blogging combo...but I won't complain!

Wishing you a magical holiday season and a very Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Oh the weather outside is frightful...

...but inside it's so delightful... long as you love me so...


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Today I'm doing some menu planning for our upcoming festivities.  I need to be prepared in advance as we will be on the road most of the week, first traveling up north and then down south.  My plan is to cook and bake everything tonight and tomorrow, freeze, then grab and go as we pass through.  It sure would be easier if our families all lived in one place!

I've picked a few recipes from a book my Grandma made for me years ago.  It was to be a wedding shower gift, a tradition she had started for her four granddaughters.  Since it took awhile for me to get married, she gave in and I got my book early.  In my youth, and for a few years thereafter, I had a big crush on Kenny Rogers, so she included Kenny's recipe for Country Chicken Salad in my book!

We're expecting an overnight snowstorm, continuing through tomorrow.  Winter Storm Advisories are out, schools are already closed and the salt trucks have been preparing all day.  I'm all ready to be snowed in tomorrow!  Maybe I'll break out the old Kenny Rogers albums!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Just finishing up the last custom order to be mailed in time for Christmas.
I'm knitting a headband and matching neck warmer.

Lucky is watching, and I'm about to be pounced on...

Lucky the Studio Cat

Funny little guy.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The angels are always near to those who are grieving,
to whisper to them that their loved ones are safe in the hand of God.

-From The Angels' Little Instruction Book

Like everyone else, I'm trying to come to terms with the monstrous school shooting in Connecticut.
I wish my little nephews lived closer so I could hug them tight.  

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

There's no place like home...

I'm visiting my parents for a couple days. Love being here, in the house I grew up in,
especially when it's decorated for Christmas.

Happy Happy Happy!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Laughed out loud when I first saw these socks in the store.

Thought the individual toe part might bug me, but it isn't so bad.
Completely worth any minor discomfort to look down at my feet and giggle at random times throughout the day!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Just got back last night from a weekend in Illinois, where I participated in Ladies Night Out, a holiday sale at the Woodstock Country Club.  It was a fundraiser for my nephews' school, and just a lovely evening at a lovely setting with lovely people.  Thank you so much to all the wonderful ladies who offered such nice words of support and encouragement.  Thank you, thank you.

After the sale on Friday, the rest of the weekend was family hanging out time.  My parents were also in town for a visit.  We all really love being together.  We're lucky like that!  I slept in the bottom bunk in my youngest nephew's room, and several times during the night I heard him giggling in his sleep.  Warmed this Auntie's heart right up!

It's good to be silly!

My sister was quite pleased to have some female adult helpers for their annual tradition of decorating gingerbread houses!

We went to a Christmas tree farm on Sunday.

Then I had a four hour drive home.  I'm pooped!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Yesterday I ventured out of the cabin for the first time in days.
I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.

I put on a cute outfit and headed to a salon in town for a haircut to perk me up.

And pretty much nothing makes this girl feel better than a little thrift shopping.

There are two charity thrift shops in town, both run by little old lady volunteers.  I love chatting with these precious ladies about the items I'm buying.  They ooooohhh and aaaahhh and say what a good deal I got.  I'm SO gonna be a great old lady.  I bought up some really cute and fun random things, and the combined total of all my thrifted items was less than the one round hairbrush I bought at the salon!  

Here's what came home with me:

  • An ankle-length winter coat, nice lean lines, dark gray nubby fabric, black collar, interestingly made in the Ukraine so I'm thinking this is a good sign it will be warm!
  • Two stocking caps that were exactly one buck each.  One is a periwinkle The North Face (!) cap with cute pompom on top, the other hand knit of 100 percent silk yarn using a combination of all my favorite colors
  • And did you notice the hand knit ivory scarf hoodie thingy that Pompeii is wearing in the above photo?  Yep, scored that too.
  • Two more soft warm scarves, one in my most favorite color magenta and the other turquoise
  • A gold (slightly, tastefully sparkly) baby-doll style thin sweater to wear to my holiday events with a chunky statement necklace
  • And this vintage cup and saucer...

Definitely on the road to recovery over here...

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

River Stones, Sterling Silver Wires, Crystal and Sterling Silver Beads

These custom earrings are made from beach rocks my friend gathered at her family's cottage in Michigan.  

Before this, I'd never drilled through rocks before.  I went through a whole set of diamond bits and cracked several rocks in the process, but I enjoyed the challenge!

My friend will be giving them as a special gift for family members.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Gosh.  When I started today's blog post, my intention was really to show you a necklace and bracelet set that I just finished.  Now it seems I've made a short story long.  There is a point to the whole thing though.  Read on...

It's been a few years now since I've worked at a "normal" job with a "normal" schedule.  I'd been at the  same company for almost 14 years, enduring its growing pains and stressful demands on our industry.  For years I hadn't been happy in my job; I was restless but afraid to walk away.  Suddenly I was faced with a major career choice.  I was given several options, but the only one that really made sense was for me to leave the company.  So here it was.  My chance to get out of a rut.  To make a change.  Time to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.  This was what I had been secretly longing for.  Why was I so terrified?

I was having a hard time adjusting to my new lifestyle.  I felt guilty for having free time, so I wasn't even enjoying it.  I was supposed to be taking some time to figure out what I wanted to do next, but I had no idea where to start.  No plan.  More guilt.  A friend suggested I see a therapist/life coach who had helped her work through some things she had struggled with.  Figuring I had nothing to lose, I made an appointment.  Little did I know how much it would change my life.  

I was told during our very first therapy meeting that I MUST create art.  Creativity is at the very core of who I am, who I always have been.  It's no wonder I was restless...I had been sitting at a desk all day, working at a computer, doing a job that no longer fulfilled me.  I'd lost the very essence of who I am.  I wouldn't find myself while crunching numbers or creating spreadsheets.  I NEEDED TO MAKE ART!   Wow, someone was giving me permission to spend my time being creative.  With NO guilt!  After all, it was therapy!

I finally had a plan.  I needed a space to make art.  My art supplies were inconveniently stuffed into a utility closet in the kitchen, so my husband suggested we install cabinets in an unused room off the garage that we never really knew what to do with.  He made me a large drafting table and we put in screen doors.  I had my own creative space.  My therapist suggested I check out the work of artist Kelly Rae Roberts.  As soon as I saw a piece of her work in person, it was as if my heart opened up to a new world of possibility.  I enrolled in Kelly Rae's e-course about realizing creative dreams and running a creative business.  That's when I started my blog.

Ironically, not long before all this was happening with my career, my friend Jody and I started getting together once a month to work on creative projects.   Jody had been my hairdresser for years, but we never saw each other socially...until one day in her salon when we decided we should get together to make stuff.  Looking back now, it's funny how things have a way of working out.  She really helped me through those dark days and continues to be one of my closest friends.  Together we have done craft sales, hosted holiday Open Houses, made purses, coasters, cards and jewelry.  Without her support, I wouldn't have had the courage to get my stuff out there to sell.  I'm truly blessed with her friendship.

Well I haven't gone to therapy for awhile now, but what I gained from it is invaluable; for another significant irony in my story is that the therapist who encouraged my creative journey has become another one of my very closest everyday friends!  Sure, I'm still a work in progress.  I've learned a lot about myself and how to handle certain situations.  I've learned new ways of thinking, about how my thoughts impact my actions, in positive and negative ways.  The real biggie is that I'm learning not to be so hard on myself.  

Now that you know the backstory of my creative journey, you can understand that a colossal drawback to my lifestyle is not getting my own regular paycheck.  I've been trying to stay out of retail shops so I'm not tempted to spend money on things I don't need.  For the most part, it really hasn't been that hard.  But I do feel that I sometimes miss out on following the latest fashion trends, especially as the seasons change.  So I asked my fashionista friend Renita for some jewelry trend advice.  I'm a regular follower of her fashion and lifestyle blog called MyLifeWhileShopping.  Here is where you can meet her:

I'm taking Renita's advice and am making some 'statement necklaces' for my upcoming sales.  I just finished this necklace and bracelet set:

Statement Necklace & Bracelet Set
So what began as just a room off the garage with a skylight, the room where the dog stayed while we were away at work, has now become my sunny and vibrant art studio.  The dog still spends all day in this little room, but now she's laying at my feet as I work on my art!

As for me personally, these days I'm more content than I've ever been.  This admission should not be taken lightly.  You see, my entire life, no matter my age or location, I have ALWAYS wished I was somewhere else, doing something else.  But here I am, being good with where I'm at...

I have a full and happy heart.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here.
I've had a little bug, on and off, for about two weeks now.  The kind where it hurts to think or move.  Some days are better than others.  I took advantage of a good day to climb the ladder in the garage and bring down bins from the top shelf where I store the Christmas decorations.  Not wanting to overdo it too much, I took my time assembling the cute little thrift shop tree I bought a couple years ago, to replace the gigantic tree that never really fit in anywhere.  An old tape of White Christmas was playing in the VCR, a decorating tradition I've kept for many years.  My tummy wasn't quite ready for the traditional mug of hot chocolate, but Diet 7Up on ice hit the spot.

Lucky the Studio Cat
I've been collecting vintage Christmas ornaments for awhile now, and this year the tree will hold only vintage ornaments on its branches.  Some are special ones that belonged to my great-grandparents, others I've picked up at thrift shops and rummage sales.  I really enjoyed taking my time unwrapping all the delicate ornaments.  Lucky the Studio Cat enjoyed it too!

Since I have some sales coming soon and my husband is out of town for a couple weeks, I took a few days to head up north to our cabin for another creative retreat.  This will be the last time I'll be able to stay until Spring because we will soon winterize it for the season.  In our neck of the woods this is the opening weekend of deer hunting season, so we won't be taking long walks in the woods this time.  Really wish I felt better than I do, but I'll work on a little bit at a time in between naps by the fire.  Move over Pompeii, I need to lay down too!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Photo Contest

This is my beautiful friend Sarah wearing one of my handmade hats.
Really, who doesn't love polka dots?

Today I submitted this picture into a photo contest; the contest theme is "Orange" and the picture has to include a person.
I love that Sarah is always willing to strike a pose.
And it was really chilly outside yesterday morning when I took this picture, but she didn't let it show.
She's a pro!  And so pretty.

Man, do I love taking pictures.
This is the first time I've entered one of my photos in a contest like this...
  maybe it's time for someone besides my family and friends to see them!

This photo was submitted to the I Heart Faces photo challenge –
Photo Challenge Submission

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

This time of year I wonder, how can it be this time of year again?!  We're already talking holiday plans, craft sales are on the calendar, gift lists are being finalized.

Last year during the holidays I overdid it.  Planned too many sales too close together, promised to be too many places with not enough time to get there, didn't spend enough time with the people I love most, didn't even put up a Christmas tree - or a single decoration.  It just didn't feel like Christmas, and that literally has bothered me all year long.  But this time I'm going about it all differently...

Recently I had a self-imposed creative hiatus at our cabin up north.
No pressure.
No expectations.
No overdoing it.
Nowhere else to be.
But here.

I set up a comfy work station at the kitchen table, complete with a stuffed chair borrowed from the living room.  Most days were spent in my fleece jammies, wrapped in goose down blankets and watching old seasons of Gossip Girl on Netflix while I made jewelry and painted.

I wasn't on a schedule and could work into the early hours of the morning if I wanted to, then take a power nap in front of the fireplace.  Here's my dog Pompeii, showing how it's done.

It really was an artist's dream to have that much uninterrupted alone time, to let the ideas flow.  Didn't have to prepare meals or clean up my messes.  When a piece of jewelry was finished, I hung it on a peg in the hallway, and before long the pegs were overflowing with glitzy bits!  In the kitchen, the countertops were covered in newspaper and a variety of mixed media to play around with.  I folded, cut, tore and glued down bits of paper to form a single layer on a canvas, then let each layer dry.  Didn't have a plan in mind, just let the shapes come into form as the layers were built upon the canvas.  This one took the shape of a cozy little house.

Every afternoon, my sweet dog would get antsy and bump me with her nose, letting me know it was time to go for a walk.  It was nice to stretch my legs and get some fresh (albeit chilly) air, and I always took my camera along to capture little surprises along the way.  

The entire time I was up there, the sunrises were spectacular!
What a gift.
So very inspiring.

I'm so blessed to have spent this precious time at my happy little place.
Can't think of a better way to initiate my mindset for this year's holiday season...

No pressure.
No expectations.
No overdoing it.
Nowhere else to be.
But here.