Thursday, December 16, 2010

Get Ready, Get Set.........

It has been an artsy-craftsy extravaganza the last six weeks, and low and behold, it's almost Christmas. My usual holiday pattern of vendor shows and craft fairs carry me through November to the first weekend of December. Then I tuck away all the craft supplies and focus on the holidays with the family.

This year, not so much. There's the AD/HD with all things creative. And then, there's........ the opening of my sister Melissa's new studio this weekend.

After visiting Melissa's Rapt in Maille booth at the One of a Kind Show in Chicago, the over-the-top excitement bubbled over and Mom and I descended upon poor Melissa, whether she liked it or not. A snowstorm prevented us from helping spruce up the new studio space last weekend, so...... a mid-week trek downtown was in order.

Color me impressed! The studio is a lovely space.

Melissa has carved out a spot to display Mom's "Twisted Tines" windchimes and my folksy snowmen, too.

That's a windchime with the compulsory addition of greens. Mom set containers of greenery all around the studio, too.

My snowmen canvas panels are taking shape on Melissa's workbench.

The opening reception is less than 24 hours away. There's still a frenzy of last minute details. Sort of intoxicated with pride over Melissa's latest accomplishment.

Join us for a glass of bubbly and help us celebrate.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

We Came, We Saw, We Have Blisters

Today was the last Antique and Flea Market of the season at the Walworth County Fairgrounds in Elkhorn, WI. So I decided to ignore my overgrown garden and piles of laundry and meet up with my Mom to do what we do best.... junque-ing.

Since two sets of eyes are better than one, together we can do an adequate job of hunting down our treasures. I look for vintage jewelry pieces and old buttons I can repurpose into new wearables and art forms. She looks for silverware and old silver tea serving sets she masterfully gives a new life as wind chimes.

We stopped by a few tried-and-true vendors. We saw Candyce Martens, of -- she used to have a fab little store in our small town and we miss her. But we're glad she's still creating! Click through and take a look at her art and the altered jewelry, which is quite amazing.

Then we ran into Catherine Grunewald, my mother's folk artist friend and -- well, let's just say you get the two of those women in one place, hold onto your hats..... Cathy introduced us to our favorite vendor of the day, Doug the Silverware Guy.

He had LOTS of what we were looking for.

Mom needed a trip to the car to unload after that purchase.

There were lots of odds and ends throughout the afternoon. My favorite: the folk art rooster. Really wanted to bring him home to strut his stuff in my garden -- still mad for talking myself out of it.

But I did settle on a sweet little firefly. Can't you feel the zap of electricity from his rear end? Bzzt.

Elkhorn, you never disappoint.

Monday, September 6, 2010

We Interrupt This Regularly Scheduled Programming For a Message From Your Muse

A few weeks ago..... maybe even months now....... I carried my old trusty craft bins down from the attic, vowing to get a head start on the holidays this year. No more adrenaline filled late nights putting last minute touches on projects the week of a craft show. No more wishing I had just made one more gift. Time to enjoy Christmas without cursing myself for not planning better.

Broke out the paints, the brushes, the old wood forms rescued from craft store clearance racks. Glue. Markers. Fancy papers. Bits of lace. This and that. Covered my dining room table with newsprint to protect it. Started painting and...... nothing. It felt like drudgery. All creative spark was gone.

And so I have to apologize to anyone who lives with me or even stops by to visit. There my hopes sit, for all to see, scattered out over my dining room table until the inspiration returns.

One thing I learned is that the brain's urge to be creative is hindered by the physiology of the body while it's working on other things. I have spent the better part of the last eight months trying to figure out what ailment I had -- followed by a variety of guesses at how to heal me. Symptoms were all over the spectrum, from dizzying nausea and pain to fatigue and headaches. There were tests and medication. There were alternative therapies and homeopathics. All to treat (apparently) the wrong ailment. Silly me.

But I'm on the mend and the creative juices are stampeding through me like a herd of wild horses. So while I usually spend this Labor Day weekend enjoying the beauty and bounty of my garden, this year I decided to craft my own flowers in place of what is in the sad overgrown patch outside my window. The poor weeds have taken over -- they're having a riotous party knowing I've been too ill this year to send them packing.

First, I learned a new skill in jewelry: the wire-wrapped loop. I found some German vintage glass flowers at a little bead shop and decided they must be transformed into dangles for necklaces.

That's a head pin with a yellow crystal bead at the center of the vintage flower. I put a brass end cap on the top just to make it look extra vintage.....

It takes a right angle bend and then you wrap the wire around, then trim the excess.

Okay so I'm not a pro at it yet. More practice.

After I made a few flowers, I felt inspired enough to continue the flower-making trend in paint. Sunflowers in yellow, orange, and red. These may end up on the top of a trinket box or nailed to a harvest sign.

Oh, and while the creative urge is riding the crest, it helps to have a distraction for the five-year-old. At the very least, his own art project at the ready is a good thing and will buy anywhere from 20 minutes to a hour, depending on the task.

(At one point I looked over at him, tongue appearing at the corner of his mouth. Biting the tongue aids in concentration, don't you know. Tee hee.)

Alright craft show season. Bring it.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

To The Rescue!

Two small boxes arrived today via FedEx. Usually when the FedEx driver makes an appearance, it means a big box full of lovely products for me, then an empty big box awaiting my imaginative son to turn into an airplane, or a train, or a submarine.

Alas, that big box will arrive next week.

Today, my new fall catalogs arrived from Willow House. Grant studied the two little boxes and finally declared, "Mama, you need to make me a Buzz Lightyear costume!"

Immediately after dinner we set about cutting, taping, bending and drawing. He had a very elaborate plan and instructions that I interpreted as best as I could from an overly excited 5 year old. Insert Tab A into Tab B, whip out some twine, and......

A superhero, in the flesh, in my kitchen.

I think he's going to be an actor someday. I'm pretty sure he won't rest until he's battled Zurg.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A First

This is the first book written by my friend, David.

This is the first book cover I've ever designed. For real.

The book will be available in about a week but pre-orders can be placed by clicking here.

Some firsts are too terrific for words.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Thank You, Spring Breeze

There is a moment of the day (if you're lucky) when the bustling activity stops suddenly. The mind clears. The sound of birds chirping for rain can be heard above the din of life. A spring gust forces itself in through an open window, making the curtains dance, and brings with it...... wait, that's an old familiar scent...... Lilacs!

Usually it's Mother's Day weekend when I'm scrambling to fill a vase brimming over with lilacs from the bushes out front. Here we are -- one week early -- and the lavender beauties are in full bloom.

Stop everything. Find scissors. Grab a hammer (to pound the cut ends with so they fray and will take in enough water to last a little longer in the vase). Scurry out to cut a small handful of the most open lovely blooms. Pound. Old McCoy vase. Water. Ta-Da!!!! (The BIG vase spilling over with lilacs will come; this merely satisfies the momentary craving and happies up my afternoon.)

Wish I had a "Scratch-N-Sniff" feature on this blog.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Things I'm Loving Now

Yes, spring is coming, my friends.

The days are getting longer. The sun in making a more frequent appearance. But to bide the time until I see the first crocus flower bloom outside my back door, here are a few things I simply love.

• A smile so wide everyone wonders what you're up to.

• Leftover Chicago-style deep dish pizza.

• Hunting for treasures and bargains. Combine both in one shopping spree, and I'm deliriously happy.

• The trend in fashion toward flowers adorning everything.
––This one has that "Oh, I just threw this on" carefree, casual look about it.
––I'm sad when flower corsages go out of style, and rejoice when they're back in again. This is full bloom fun and crazy beautiful.

• The special knack my little boy has for delivering a compliment that stretches wildly beyond anyone else's ability to make me feel like I'm walking on air.

• Collage artists who are catching my attention:

Dolan Geiman

LuAnne Payne

Allison Strine

• Marion Cotiallard's performance in "Nine".

––This is chopped up because it's been made into a music video. I wish I could find the whole scene from the movie, but it's a bawdy jazz number that I think every woman feels like performing at least once in her life.

• A certain shade of blue. It has a touch of purple. Most would call it periwinkle. I love color -- vibrant colors that communicate emotion. Fiery red, energetic yellow, soothing green, electric blue all have their place and time. I think that when I'm completely at rest, I am periwinkle.

Live in full color, and celebrate the coming of spring.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Taking The Cake

Tonight I finished baking my fourth chocolate cake this month, thanks to all the family and friend February birthdays. Chocolate was THE request. I think I'm ready to move on to other recipes, March celebrants....

Wanna lick the beaters?

Don't get me wrong, I love chocolate. What day is not made better by its presence? It's the perfect little pick-me-up when nothing else will do. (This feeling usually finds me around 3 p.m. in my office. If you happen to drop by, I'll be sneaking a luxurious piece of chocolate out of its hiding place in the depths of my desk drawer. I might even share, if you're nice.)

I read that chocolate contains a chemical called phenylethylamine, which causes a reaction in your brain similar to what you feel when you are falling in love. Delicious and enchanting. No wonder it's a Valentine's Day staple.

So as I say goodbye to February, the month to snuggle under the covers with a loved one, enjoy treats made of chocolate and linger over sweet prose from a little book of poetry, I'll avoid pondering how much chocolate I've consumed in this shortest month of the year. I'll try to reel in my chocolate cravings until..... Easter.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Who Put The Happy In My Birthday?

It began yesterday. People with well wishes jumping the gun. And a delightful card that showed up at my office depicting all the things and people I love in this world and beyond.

This, for a girl who spent some years purposefully hiding her birthday so that nobody would notice. I blame this partly on the fact that a birthday so early in the year meant suffering through birthdays at the hands of people ridden hard by the holiday monster. I mean, really, who wants to concoct another celebration and come up with yet another gift in early January. Cake, too? Can't we just say we're exhausted and make it up at another time?

The other reason I hoped to escape birthdays was the confusion about happy celebrations and excitement for the sake of it. I spent a good portion of my 20s working through codependency. I worked 12-step programs and attended Adult Children of Alcoholics meetings. I learned why happiness didn't seem natural to me, but confusion and chaos felt normal. My 30s I'm glad to say approached normalcy and happiness rose to the top of things worth fighting for. Now, I say, bring it on.

Not to say that birthdays weren't special days in my family. There were birthday dinners and favorite cakes. My grandmother turned out this lovely creation called an Italian Cream Cake, my hands-down favorite: a dense white cake with pecans, coconut and cream cheese frosting (topped with more coconut). Lordy. I have so many fantastic memories because of my grandmother and I miss her dearly. So when this little card showed up at work reminding me of my favorite things, my eyes fell upon the center of the card where a red heart with the word "Grandmother" in the center stopped me for a few moments. I searched my brain for how anyone would know what to put on such a birthday greeting, and remembered a little questionnaire I filled out shortly after I accepted my position. Who did I most admire? My Nanny.

Today was a birthday approached with reluctance at first, then full-on acceptance, sprinkled with moments of pure joy. Here it is by the numbers:

The shades of red nail polish I own, all with their own merits. Though I rarely paint my fingernails because I'm so hard on my hands and the polish doesn't wear well, I can't give them up. I contemplated if the extra minutes to paint my nails would be worth it as a celebratory birthday gesture. Decided to skip it.

The number of electronic birthday salutations I received this year, which is 32 more than I received last year. Long live social media, the marvel of my life in 2009.

The number of times a memory of my grandmother reduced me to tears today. There are days when the longing to be with her is palpable and it makes me wonder if she's one of my angels in close proximity at the moment I'm having that thought.

The number of cents left in my checking account. Let's not go there.

The number of dollars I was given as a gift card from one of my favorite stores as a birthday gift to come in and shop. What?! Free money on your birthday? Not a bad thing. I must spend enough money there that they decided to give a little back. I figure it this way: a new outfit makes you feel brand new. More than new shoes or a new hairstyle. Feeling good on your birthday is worth a week's worth of lunches and coffee, especially when you start with twenty bucks free and clear.

The age I would be indefinitely, if the universe ever gave me the option. Also, the number of roses it takes, when presented en masse, to make me giggle like a young school girl for at least a good hour.

The number of flowers my son can draw on my birthday card to make my heart beam with joy.

The number of sugar highs I experienced today as a result of tiramisu (a favorite dessert), chocolate cake with white frosting, followed by chocolate cake with fudge frosting an hour later, a chocolate caramel candy after dinner, and another chocolate birthday cake at home with the family. That's a new personal record.

All in all, a very, very happy birthday.