Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Illustration Friday - Winter

The theme for Illustration Friday  this week was "Winter".  I used a photo shot in my herb garden a couple of years ago on a very frosty morning when the sun sparkled off all of the ice jewels.  It was breath taking.  Although winter in Michigan seems to be a long, drawn out endeavor, it's beauty can entice anyone to come out for a closer look.

This mixed media piece was made using an 8x12 color photo with the emulsion dampened for distressing techniques.  The different materials and mediums include; sand paper, watercolor pencils, photo pens, permanent markers, gel pens, glimmer mist, thread, sewing machine, ephemera, specialty papers, vellum, antiquing ink, and tinsel.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Creating Christmas

While enjoying a new experience for Christmas last year in Hunedoara, Romania, I learned a valuable lesson.  I thought I already knew this lesson, but apparently I did not.  You see, in Romania, few people decorate for Christmas or even have a tree.  Shelby and I truly experienced the celebration of the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  There was no pressure to decorate, bake, purchase gifts, etc.  We spent time with new friends, people who had nothing, not even a home, and we caroled all night long (me on Christmas Eve, and Shelby for the rest of the week).

This year I wanted to not lose our new perspective.  God has blessed this wish.  In year's past there was stress about getting the house decorated quickly, to create and send out Christmas cards, to get presents purchased and under the tree, to bake and have the house clean so that I could "enjoy" the holiday.

I decided to lose the pressure.  I did decorate.  But I only worked on it when I wanted to and did not make it a family chore.  The wonderful result was that my family got involved because I was having fun with it and they wanted to join in.  I made Christmas a fun craft.  There was no pressure or expectation.  They are finished and waiting for a trip to the post office.  I have made homemade gifts for some of my friends.  What I am trying to say is that this has been the least pressure-filled Christmas I have ever experienced.  I now know that you can relax and soak in the presence of our Lord and still have pretty lights to look at.

Creating all about attitude.

Creating the Christmas cards

I found these cute tags for 50% off and added a impromptu family photo to the back taken at Cracker Barrel with a holiday greeting and myself Photoshopped in.

My "Santa Fe Tree" in the kitchen

Shelby got into the fun by displaying her Breyer Holiday Horses

My favorite...the Nativity

Mike even helped to light his extensive collection of Firehouse villages

Our main tree in the art studio/sunroom.  You'll see a lot of red because over 25 years of marriage we've collected a lot of Fire department ornaments!

We've gotten the girls an ornament each year so that when they are on their own, they have a collection for their own tree.  Shelby wanted to display her own ornaments, as they tend to get lost amongst all the fire department ornaments on the main tree.

Shelby at work on her own creative endeavors

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Twist on Pysanky

Teaching Pysanky (a form of Ukrainian Easter Egg dying) has been a passion of mine for almost 20 years.  This month I was asked to come up with a Christmas form of the medium.  So...Voila!  I designed a few ornaments for the Christmas tree.  The trickiest part of this project is that the class had to be divided into two segments.

  Tomorrow we will be doing the traditional wax resist egg dying with a single color and maybe a bit of spot dying. Here's the tricky part; I have to bring all the student's eggs home to varnish and blow the yolks out!  The drying time for the varnish is just too long for the class to hang out waiting to blow the eggs, and since the second segment is the following week, the varnish can't sit that long waiting for the yolks to be removed...That is just asking for trouble!

During the second segment we will be adding the jewelry findings and a few select embellishments for glitz.  I've enjoyed the creativity of trying to rethink this class.  Sometimes you just have to sweep the cobwebs out of your brain by switching something up!

As I always include a storage box for each egg, I was tickled to find silver and gold Chinese carry out boxes for a steal at Crafts 2000.  I think the ladies will be happy.  I also think that the time being pared down by breaking up the classes can be useful in other venues.  I'm thinking this could be a great ladies project at church for our Thursday night craft group.  Let me know what you think.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

All Hallow's Sweets

Today, I rushed home after church to make cupcakes for our neighborhood children.  I always end up delivering them because our church has a really cool Halloween outreach that I usually photograph.  Hint: Stay tuned!

In advance, I must apologize for the photo quality.  Shelby needed to borrow my camera to take photos of the children's activities for her Interact Group (Youth Rotary) at the same Halloween event.  Without thinking, I gave her permission which left me with my camera phone to document the cute cupcakes....yup.  Not cool.

However, the cupcakes were very cool and amazingly tasty.  Homemade chocolate buttercream frosting can not be beat!  Tuck in a few forgotten autumn chipboard pieces from my scrapbook supplies and Voila! Custom cupcake cuties for the neighborhood kiddies.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Home Grown

Unbelievable!  It is October 29 and I still have a bushel and a half of pears to finish preserving!  The very end of the end of the tomatoes were turned into 3 quarts and 1 pint of spaghetti sauce this week.  I have to admit, I love making spaghetti sauce.  I love letting the newly strained tomatoes cook down over 24 hours until I have sauce thicker than than the Prego brand!  Even in the dead of winter, when you crack open a jar, the scents and flavors of summer are right back in the kitchen.

But I am truly amazed at how well the pears produced this year.  I have already put up dozens of sliced pears and pear-cherry chutney.  Tomorrow I think I will make spiced pears and more chutney, as Mike eats the chutney by the jar if I don't hide them first   And of course, we give quite a lot for gifts.  My apples nevey really provide anything more for us than a few treats for the horse...I'm certain this is because we don't spray enough.  Honestly, I wouldn't spray at all if I could get any fruit otherwise.  I am determined to expand my no-spray policy from the garden to the fruit trees, if I could only get my husband on board.

 After reading "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver I am convinced the more we spray, the more pests we end up with.  Don't buy that theory?  Read the book!  She can explain it far better than I, a novice can.  We've made some very good changes at home using sustainable methods of composting, recycling, raised bed gardening, rain water collection, etcetera, but I really need to research and actively try to control my fruit pests in a more natural and balanced way.  I think my biggest fear is that it is going to entail a lot more hands-on work for me.  I already am overwhelmed in the spring, summer, and fall with planting, hand picking pests, weeding, harvesting, preserving all the produce as well as the animals we keep.  Stay tuned we'll see what happens in the spring.

Oh, and hopefully after tomorrow I'll be posting about some artwork I'm working on! :)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Senior Pictures at Hidden Lake Gardens...Take 1

Saturday Shelby and I drove out to Hidden Lake Gardens with the back of the car filled with the most unimaginable props. Everything from an antique picnic basket, a globe of the world, her "hobbit" chair, and a slew of Vogue magazines. Truly accurate aspects of her personality. Let the photo shoot begin!

I think we'll have another go at it on another day.  I loved some of her poses, but the expressions on her face tell of her frustration on wanting to be behind the camera rather than in front of it.