Wednesday, January 30, 2013

SO MANY TIMES in the last few weeks I've started to write a new post and then...major distractions.  Much to tell.

The new year's cleaning whirlwind started in my studio, and I haven't stopped since.  Every room of the house has been torn apart, scrubbed and vacuumed, then put back together.  During all this commotion, I came to the realization that I was pretty darn tired of the everyday decorations I was putting out after the Christmas stuff was gone.  Rather than buy all new stuff, I shopped the rest of my house for doodads and artwork.  Funny how things can look new and fresh in a different room, in a different arrangement.  All this cleaning and organizing has taken me away from the studio for longer than I'd like, but it's something that really needed to be done.  I did take a time-out one evening to make this:
I bought the wooden frame at Goodwill, it was on sale for 99 cents!  I just sanded the edges a bit in some places.  The  postcard in the background was sent from my great-grandpa to my great-grandma in 1910, when they were dating.  I covered the matte with an old recipe for Piccalilly, which was hand-written by my great-grandma.  The lock and key were from a box of old rusty things that was in my grandma's attic.  I didn't have a plan when I started this - I was just so happy to not be cleaning!  It was a  quick project that put a little pep back into by step.

I've been expanding my photography skills, and recently shot a family portrait session.  We have an old run-down barn adjacent to our property, that's where we started the session.  It was a brutally cold day with temps barely in the teens.  We had to pose and snap quickly, then bundle back up!  At the time it may have seemed easier to shoot indoors in a studio environment, with manipulated lighting and backgrounds, but I'm not so interested in that.  It's much more exciting and unpredictable to be outside in the elements, using the light that nature provides.

Perhaps you've heard about our Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in the news over the last year or so? He made an appearance at the snowmobile races in Eagle River a couple weeks ago, and I got to meet him.  Definitely a highlight of my year so far...

I love making these fleece hats and have made a ton of them in the last two two are exactly alike!  This week I shipped out two hats.  Thinking I may just need to make myself one of these red ones too...
All wrapped up and ready to be mailed, this hat is black with gray and black flowers, and is a surprise gift from one sister to another.  Apparently the one sister only wears a baseball cap, and the other sister thinks she needs to step up her style a bit!  Too funny.

A dear friend gave me some of her old buttons, so I made her this keepsake box using almost all vintage materials, including some of her buttons.  I mailed it today.  Hope she likes it!

Here's my friend Sarah during an impromptu photo shoot at my house one snowy weekend day.  Sarah is a part-time model (can't you tell?!) and is always game for picture taking.  We had been waiting for enough snow to take this "snow kiss" shot, and what a fantastic bonus that this day also gave us a gorgeous sunset for a background.

One thing I love about photography is that it gives me little spurts of instant artsy gratification during times like these, when life pulls me in lots of different directions and I can't spend all day in the studio like I want to.

A couple weeks ago I dropped off my camera for a cleaning and (long story short) ended up with a brand new free upgraded camera.  I was over-the-moon excited about this, and poor Pompeii had to listen to me go on and on about it.  So she got to be in the very first picture I took with my new camera.  I fancied it up a bit, but here she is, listening...

I've been working on my health and fitness these days and have once again boarded the exercise train, after a half-year hiatus.  It's very easy for me to find excuses not to work out, but last week in the gym I witnessed a lady doing squats while rocking a baby stroller with one hand, then later nursing the baby in the lounge.  I think of her when I think I have an excuse not to work out.  She has fortitude!  

We have some nasty winter weather coming our way in the next couple of days.  Looking forward to being snowed in, hopefully in the studio with a paintbrush in my hand.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013



Words cannot express how wonderful it feels to have a clean and organized studio again.
I feel like a new woman...a non-frazzled, put-together, efficient new woman!

I used to keep all my little mixed-media doo dads in drawers,
but ended up forgetting what was in there.
Now I'm convinced the secret to using this stuff up is to utilize see-through containers
that are kept out in the open instead of being tucked away.
At least that's my hope.

Because the collection could perhaps be getting a bit out of hand.

 I really enjoy sorting things by color, so was excited to start the button sorting project.
But by the third evening of sitting on the living room floor with a headlamp strapped to my forehead so I could see better
(this is NOT a joke), I had pretty much had enough.
Every time I thought I was done sorting, I kept finding little stashes of buttons all over the place.
But it was worth the effort because it makes me smile when I see them all together in one place, like colors together,
in see-through containers.  
Now I must think of some button projects.

What to make, what to make...
I've caught the crud.  Since Christmas it's been creeping up, and now I'm down for the count.

I read on a natural health blog that slathering eucalyptus oil on the bottom of the feet can help with congestion.  My very un-scientific explanation is that the bottom of our feet are very porous so stuff can be absorbed more quickly.  Willing to try just about anything to feel better - except get a flu shot - I've been trying this feet thing using eucalyptus and spearmint oil from Bath & Body Works.  A friend introduced me to this scent while we were shopping before Christmas, and I've been hooked ever since. BTW, this isn't a paid endorsement...just want to share my good find!

Eucalyptus Spearmint "stress relief" from Bath & Body Works
Also, lavender oil can be added to the eucalyptus concoction and applied to the bottom of the feet, which I've tried too.  I'm not sure if this ritual is really helping my sickness, but it's a nice treat to oil up my tootsies and wrap them in a thick pair of Smart Wool socks.

In between naps and bouts of coughing I've been cleaning up my studio.  During the holidays my room became a catch-all for stuff I didn't know what to do with, and I didn't spend much creative in there once I was on the road for the holiday sales I did.  I'm also the very fortunate recipient of some fun hand-me-down items from my aunts, mom, and friends.  I had yet to put the new-to-me stuff away in the proper place, so that added to the ever growing piles.  I really can't wait to use these new things in upcoming creations, so that is my reward once everything is nice and tidy.  Really can't believe I let my studio get so disheveled.  I even took a picture of it for posterity but am embarassed to show anyone.  Then again...maybe if I post the picture here, it will be a reminder to stay on top of things.  Yeah, that sounds like a good
Ready for this?

Well, the bright side is that Pompeii was able to find a cozy place to rest while I dug into the piles.  My goal is to keep the countertops and work table clear of clutter, something I've struggled with since, well, forever.  I brought down a metal shelving unit from the attic that will now house my jewelry supplies and beads.  Knitting supplies are now being kept on a shelf in the garage.  I've tossed a couple garbage bags full of junk, packaging, and unfinished wayward projects.  Think I need one more day in there before posting an official "after" picture. 

Right now it's late at night and I can't sleep due to daytime naps and cold medicine, so I'm looking through Christmas photos.  Thought I'd share a few...

Our first Christmas celebration was with my husband's family, where we rented a cabin up north for a few days.
Not a bad view to wake up to!

Plum Lake - Sayner, WI
My mother-in-law made this adorable bear for her granddaughter as a Christmas gift.
She used a pattern that her own mother had used, making it even more special!

Our niece settled in for a long winter's nap...

The day after Christmas we drove to Illinois to spend time with my parents and sister's family.

We played outside in the snow and on the ice...

We opened presents, ate cookies, and played video games.

Even did some target and skeet shooting, and my Dad showed me how to shoot a pistol.  

One of the days we went to see the Harlem Globetrotters play, that was a fun day.

We really had a relaxing Christmas this year, despite the traveling.  It was awesome to be able to spend good quality time with both of our families.  

There was one happy kitty here when we finally got home!

Here's a picture I took before Christmas of our girl waiting patiently to eat her cookie.
Sweet, sweet girl.

Well I'd better try to get some sleep now, it feels like the NyQuil is kicking in.
Good night!