Friday, December 16, 2011

Art Journaling Rush

I have been on a major art journaling kick lately.  The book "The Art Journaling Workshop" has been a real boost and opening up creative thoughts.  Here are just a few pages that I've been working on.

I love that art journaling has helped me work out some of the things I have had brewing in my mind while letting me play with my art supplies and trying new techniques.  So much fun.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Living Well

I have been thinking about how life is getting more chaotic and filled with "wants" especially since the holiday season has arrived.  I don't think that living well has anything to do with having "stuff".  For me it has more to do with enjoying and being thankful for what you have and who you have to share it with.  I am trying hard to share the concept with the kids.  Maybe TV will become even more limited around here since the "I wants" are triggered off too many commercials at the moment.

Living Well pages from my Art Journal

We had our first snow storm of the season last night.  It was only 4 inches of snow but with the wind it did cause some areas to be without power.  The kids didn't have school either.  So we spent an hour or so shoveling and playing in the mushy mess outside.  Then we came in and enjoyed some hot cocoa with cookies.  After that the kids and I played around with paint, paper and Playdoh.  Love spending the afternoon getting crafty with the kids.

First 2011 Snow Fall

  Kids Art

Hubby has a ton of t-shirts that are too tatty to wear but that I feel bad throwing away.  I keep thinking that I can use them for something more than rags so I have a stash of them waiting to find new uses.  I've finally found something to use at least one for - the lining of an 18" doll's cape.  DD has been bugging me to make this cape in red velour for ages but I didn't have any white fur, or any fur actually, to line it with.  The t-shirt material is so soft and worked perfectly.  I am considering using more of them for DD's cape to match.  I have found that I actually like sewing and have started looking into more patterns.  I've planned a cute t-shirt with frills and leggings for the 18" doll and matching set for DD.  Next I'll tackle some pajama sets.  Rather than buying matching sets for the holidays this year, I'm thinking of sewing them myself.

Red Velour Cape lined with hubby's t-shirt.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

New Project and Art Journaling

After having so much fun with the Tea Box Swap at Mixed Media Art I decided to try my hand at another swap going on.  The art piece needs to include a face and a broken heart, which leaves so much room to play with.  I have some ideas and items chosen to work with already.  I'm excited to get started.

Face & Broken Heart Mixed Media Start

I've been working in my art journal more frequently.  There is so much inspiration out there from Pinterest, blogs and some fun books.  I just finished reading "The Art Journal Workshop" by Traci Bunkers.  Loved it, super inspiring and am now working on some of the exercises.  My "Dream Create Imagine" exercise made me think about what I'm looking to create and why.

Dream, Create, Imagine art journal pages

And since it was Thanksgiving I worked on "Gratitude".  There are so many things that I am grateful for and I realized that most of it is the simple, basic things that are the most important.

Gratitude art journal pages

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Mending, Baking and Recovering

I have the big, heavy, old sewing machine sitting on my kitchen table since I've been putting on Girl Scout patches lately.  This means that I am expected to do "the mending" that has been piling up.  I'm not sure that everyone in the family understands what "mending" is.  Some of the items in my basket will end up as rags because there isn't enough fabric to hold it together.  And I need to get some more knee patches, who knew that DS would put holes in almost every pair of pants he owns.  I might even try my hand at a few 18" doll clothes while the machine is sitting there.

I'm out of pumpkin puree at the moment so baking is back to more standard fare.  Apple crisp, brownies, and cookies.  I need to get more pumpkins so that I can make puree for Pumpkin Crumb Cake, Pumpkin Cheesecake and a few new recipes I've run across while blog hopping or on Pinterest.  The kids are looking forward to "Monster Cookies" made extra large with all the goodies in them.  I'm baking Rumple Doodles today, one of hubby's favorites.  Great with a large cup of tea too.

Rumple Doodles with Tea

The kids, hubby and I are finally recovering from the latest round of yuck going around.  About four days of fever, vomiting, diarehha and general blah feeling for each of us.  Basically a week for all of us to get thru it.  Took my first walk after a week and it felt so good.  Love walking along the nature trail, enjoying all the smells, sights and sounds of the great outdoors.  I'm going for the 2.8 mile walk trail today.  Plus some local shopping for "Shop Local Saturday".  Fun stuff.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


"He enjoys much who is thankful for little." ~Thomas Secker

I am thankful for my loving family.
I am thankful that my husband has a job that, even if we have to sacrifice some comforts and extras,
     allows me to be a stay-at-home-mom.
I am thankful that my family is healthy.
I am thankful that we have a roof over our heads.
I am thankful that we have food to eat.
I am thankful that we have family and friends who we love and who love us.
I am thankful.

Friday, November 18, 2011

First Snow, Creative Fun, and Cameras

The middle of November arrived along with a flurry of snowflakes.  None of the flakes lasted but they were pretty anyways.  The kids were disappointed that there wasn't any "real" snow but I can wait just a little longer before having to drive in the white stuff.

I have been gathering and creating some cute stuff for gift exchanges with some of my craft teaching friends.  I made a few vintage button cards, some cute candy/treat holders and ribbon spool tags.  Each person has a unique container for all the goodies and some treasures tucked inside.  I'll be posting the actual photos once I know the gifts have been received.

I've also signed up for another challenge/swap at Mixed Media Art that I can't wait to dig into my stash to get started.  Some ideas floating around and products I've wanted to use that could work for the project.  Creativity just keeps flowing once it starts.

Starting to look for a new camera.  My current one is having some issues - need to set the date/time every time it is turned on and doesn't always want to turn on.  I'm looking for a decent but not too expensive digital SLR.  I've had the chance to try both a Nikon and a Canon but wonder what else is out there or what I need to be looking for.  Would make a nice gift, wouldn't it?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Art Journal and Tea Box Swap

I have been working on some pages in my art journal lately.  It has been a great way to keep my creativity flowing and charged up.  If I do something everyday, even if it is something tiny, my creative wheels keep turning and my mind has more ideas than I can deal with.  The pages I worked on today are some of my favorites.  I've always liked those faceless girls that wear pretty paper dresses so I had to make myself one.  I love vintage 40's/50's clothes so the dress is inspired from that.  It also reminds me of my mother and grandmother that seemed to manage time better than I do.

I mentioned the Altered Tea Box Swap over at Mixed Media Art in a previous post and I'm excited to say that I received my box from Patti.  It is lovely and filled with all kinds of treasures.  Here are a few photos of the box and goodies I received.

The little fairy doll is now officially an "Art Fairy" and will have a spot on my art desk.  Well, as soon as I get my desk a bit more cleaned off.  This was a fun challenge/swap to participate in for me.  It was small enough to fit into my schedule, interesting to alter something that I usually take for granted on my kitchen counter and exciting to fill with little items that I made or that can be used to make something.  Here are a few photos of the finished tea box I altered.

I'll be making a few more of these to use as "gift" boxes.  How cute to decorate the box for a little girl and fill with pretty trinkets, barrettes, and other goodies.  Or decorate for a little boy and fill with a Hot Wheel car and other goodies.  I love filling cute, little containers for the kids with things they have to explore a bit to find it all.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Finding Inspiration

There is a new addiction/obsession on my computer for finding inspiration - Pinterest.  Tons of eye candy, lovely color combos, tempting recipes to try, crafts to dabble in and so much more.  I can get lost looking at my "feed" or checking out "pins" of friends for hours.  It is a wonderful way to gather recipes I would like to try, rather than a ton of magazine pages piling up in a basket on my kitchen countertop.  Also so many crafty/artsy ideas I want to try are all gathered in one spot.  I have to set the timer to limit my time or I'd be in front of my computer all day.

I spent some time yesterday morning browsing through a stack of magazines at Barnes & Noble while sipping a Pumpkin Spice Latte.  All kinds of yum!  New "Where Women Create", "Somerset Studio" and "Cloth Paper Scissors" eye candy to gaze at and spicy, creamy goodness to drink.  I am so ready to get creating and have so many ideas I want to try.  I'm so inspired I don't know where to start.  Since I can't make a decision I'll probably try some ideas in my art journal first.  It'll be creative, messy, and fun no matter what.

I've finished my altered tea box for Patti and will be mailing it out tomorrow.  I enjoyed this little altering project and will have to do another.  My little stash of tea boxes will make cute packages for gift giving this year.  Matching the packages to each person and finding or creating sweet little things to put inside will be an adventure in creativity.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Menu Monday

The cooler weather is making for some delicious dinners around here.  I love soups from my crock-pot combined with fresh baked bread.  Wonderful way to warm up a wet, chilly fall evening.  Today I made one of my faves - Wild Rice and Sausage Soup.  Of course I had to try it for lunch.

Wild Rice and Sausage Soup

2 cups diced turkey sausage (replace with your favorite sausage or cooked ham)
1 cup juliened carrots
3/4 cup uncooked wild rice (I like a mix of rices & wheat berries)
1 3/4 cup vegetable or chicken stock
1 can cream of celery soup
ground pepper to taste
1 cup half & half
2 tablespoons dry sherry
1/4 cup sliced almonds (optional)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Add sausage, carrots, rice, stock, cream of celery and pepper into crock-pot.  Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.  Stir in half & half and dry sherry then turn on high and cook for 10-15 minutes.  Sprinkle almonds and parsley on top to serve.

This soup goes perfectly with fresh baked bread and my personal favorite to serve is Whole Wheat Zucchini Bread.  You can add herbs, like basil or rosemary (dried 1/2 tsp. or fresh 1 tsp.) to the recipe but I love it without.  I love my bread machine and this is perfect for it.  This recipe is for a 1 1/2 lb. loaf.

Whole Wheat Zucchini Bread

3/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
1 cup shredded zucchini
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 1/2 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon dry yeast

Put all ingredients into the bread machine pan in the order given.  Set machine for 1 1/2 pound loaf and go.

The menu for the rest of the week includes more soups, homemade potpie, crockpot pork chops and roasted chicken.  I've also have plans for Colonial Oatmeal Cookies, apple crisp and pear tart this week too.  Love fall baking and cooking.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sewing, Sunflowers and Art Kits

I think the warmer part of fall has passed now.  Cold and wet weather is the forecast for the next week or so.  I don't mind the wet and I don't mind the cold but I do mind when they are together.  As long as we get a bit of sunshine here and there it'll be fine.  I need to get my walks in regardless of the weather so I'll be heading to the mall to walk if it gets too bad.

Since I have the big sewing machine out and ready to go I might try my hand at creating doll clothing for DD's American Girl doll.  DD has some cute outfits that might translate well into doll clothes.  I also might make some nightgowns for DD and her doll out of worn king-size flannel sheets.  I might have enough time to start tackling it this weekend.

I unearthed my Painted Sunflower Frame this past weekend.  I love the touches of metallic copper acrylic paint in the leaves in flower centers.  This might work well on a "Welcome" plaque design I have in mind.  Another thing I might tackle this weekend.

Hand-painted Sunflower Frame
Inspiration kits have really been catching my eye and inspiration lately.  I love seeing what can be put together, mixed and matched.  Lots of little pieces, scraps of papers, tags, metal embellishments, doo-dads, and such.  Since I have lots of that type of stuff on hand I decided to put together a few kits for myself.  I usually create kits for projects or pages that I'm working on but not just for inspiration.  It was fun and really interesting to gather things without a real purpose.  I have no idea what to do with this kit yet but another one is already in the works.

Art Kit #1 - all packed up

Art Kit #1 - look at all the goodies

Monday, October 24, 2011

Creative Kits

Plenty of stuff going on around here lately.  Kids activities, household chores, baking and some creative stuff too.  I'm still trying to use up more of the pumpkin so I made our favorite Pumpkin Crumb Cake.  Kids love it for breakfast, which is great since it is tasty and good for you.  I've also baked some cookies, chocolate chip and oatmeal scotchies.  I think I've got after-school treats covered for the week.

I have a few creative projects in the works, some for myself and a few for others.  I've got three scrapbook pages finished for a tribute album I'm doing for someone.  I've also got a page kit ready to go for a class I'll be teaching next month.  There are a few pages I'd like to do for myself too.  An hour or so each day will be spent on scrapbooking this week.  Time to get a few more kit pages together.

Page Kit

Mini albums are so fun to create and I have quite a few.  I like putting together kits from scraps of other projects for these cute little books/albums.  I also do mini albums/books for classes since they are small, less time consuming than an entire album and a great way to introduce a new technique on a small scale.  I just found a few kits, from classes I've held or was planning, hiding in a box on a shelf in the utility room.  One of my favorite from a class last year is a Christmas ornament one.  It was fun to design and the class had fun making them too.  I have some ideas for a few and lots of scraps to get some kits together.

Ornament Mini Album Kit
I'm also participating in a swap on Mixed Media Art - an altered tea box.  My first challenge/swap and one I just couldn't pass up.  I was just thinking about altering some of the tea boxes I have, since they are cute.  I was matched up with a partner, Patti (Bungalow Gals), to swap with and can't wait to trade with her.  The tea box is getting ready to have the final touches added in the next day or two.  I had a blast gathering all kinds of fun 'stuff' together for the project and hope that Patti will enjoy the box and the 'treasures' I'll be stashing inside.

Altered Tea Box Project

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Turkeys, Light Houses and Badges

We've had some new visitors the last few days around here in the mornings - wild turkeys.  These birds are large and quick.  And they left sticky, smelly, yucky "presents" for us in our driveway a few times too.  The kids are fascinated and can't wait to look out our front window each morning to see if they are around.  I barely managed to get photos since they sprint away when the curtains go up.  I'm not sure how much longer they'll be hanging out in the neighborhood but it is fun to see them gathered around the neighbor's bird feeder and trotting across the front yards.

Wild Turkeys in our neighborhood.

I got some decent photos of a historic light house while we were on our recent color tour.  The sun was not in a great spot for the view I wanted to capture so I had to move around a bit.  Most of the shots were from close to shore looking in-land.  Next time I'll remember to get the photos in the late morning so that there will be a hint of beach.

Tawas Light House
My DD is having fun participating in Girl Scouts as a second year Brownie right now.  She has earned a bunch of Try-It and activity badges.  We are sewing them onto her vest, a few by hand but most by machine.  DD thinks it is so cool that she gets to sew them one herself.  She has started designing clothes she'd like to make now that she is sewing.  I loved sewing with my mom and this brings such lovely memories from my childhood to me.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Pumpkin Baking and Trips

I've been spending much of my spare time baking lately.  Treats, cookies, pies, rolls, muffins and other goodies.  Since pumpkin is in season we have more than enough on hand to keep the entire family in baked goods, especially their favorite Pumpkin Crumb Cake.  I've even made a double batch of Pumpkin Bread using some mini-bundt pans, yummy stuff.

The leaves are brilliant right now.  We took an all day color trip to enjoy the weather and sights.  The traditional stop at the cheese store for "Squeaky Cheese" and crackers to munch on during the drive was even better with yummy samples of cheese and cider.  We stopped to watch some fishing and saw a huge salmon hauled in, the kids first sight of one.  Everyone trekked down and back up the many steps of Iargo Springs and Lumberman's Monument.  My legs ached the next day.  But the views were worth every step.

I took a ton of photos for inspiration.  So many shapes, colors and such that have loads of ideas brewing in my mind.  I have plans for a fall bunting to hang on my bookshelves, some pretty twig and leaves decor for the kitchen table and even a cute scarf for DD to wear with her jean jacket.  Now if I only had a few more hours to tackle it all.

Monday, October 3, 2011

I Love Fall.

The weather has turned cooler, the leaves are changing and I am loving autumn.  The smells, sounds, sights, textures and tastes of fall are some of my favorite things.  Walking in the nature reserve most mornings has given me a better view of how quickly fall hits around here.  In only two days the woods went from lush undergrowth and green leaves with just touches of autumn creeping in to vibrant jewel toned leaves on the trees, rusty rustling ferns, trails strewn with acorns and plenty of scurrying critters to watch.  My favorite cozy sweaters are out of summer storage and ready for wearing.  The scents of baking waft through the house as the family enjoys apple crisp, pumpkin scones, freshly baked bread and homemade chicken noodle soup.  Yep, I LOVE fall.

Pumpkin Crumb Cake for brunch.

So I've lost 10+ pounds at this point and am feeling pretty good.  Eating good food, trying out new recipes and getting in an hour worth of walking almost every day is paying off.  I need to keep it up and stay positive.  I'm already having issues with clothes not fitting, which feels fantastic.

I haven't been creating much at the moment even though I've been feeling really inspired.  There are tons of ideas floating in my head and written down in my "project" notebook that I could be working on.  For some reason I feel like I'm not at home much which isn't really true.  I guess the days go by quicker when the kids are at school and I do spend more time in transit running for kids functions right now.  Seems like I've got to schedule my days a little better so I set aside time to actually work on some projects rather than just think about them.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Menu Monday + Projects

I've really been working on keeping healthy and yummy foods around the house.  It was lovely have such a variety during the summer - berries, melons, corn, tomatoes and more.  I am excited for all the fall produce that should be hitting the farmers market shortly.  I have a list of tasty pumpkin goodies I can't wait to try which includes soups, stews, cookies, cake, bread and even a cinnamon roasted pumpkin.  Now I'm hungry.

This week we are having Veggie Calzone, Tomato & Mint Pasta, Honey Chipolte Chicken with Lime Quinoa, Creamy Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Left-over Chicken Quesadillas, Crockpot Beef Stew with Irish Soda Bread.  Yep, hungrier now.  We've also been enjoying our afternoon teas when the kids get home from school.  A pot of tea, some fruit scones, and some grapes make a nice snack to hold us all over until dinner.

Saw a gorgeous mini calendar made with one of my favorite paper companies (Graphic 45) while doing a bit of blog hopping this morning.  What a great idea and super cute.  I'm going to add it to my idea notebook, might make some for the teachers at Christmas.  On my morning walks I've been collecting some items for an altered book that I have been itching to make.  I'm planning on creating a nature/bird piece using lots little stuff and an old bird house design book.  I've also been working on prepping some backgrounds to have on hand and to use up some leftover paints and paper scraps.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

School Start

The start of school this year ushered in big changes around here.  Both kids are now in school all day which is the first major change.  This means some time for DH and I to spend together without kids and even some "me" time each afternoon for me.  Both of these changes have not be hard to deal with and rather lovely.  Others not so much.  DS going from four half days at preschool last year to five full days for kindergarten this year has been a little rough.  The first few days were awful when I took him to his classroom, even though he actually loved being in class.  This week he has been only a little shy and clingy, a great improvement.  Another change that has both kids crabby and out of sorts is not seeing their dad until the weekend.  DH works a 2nd-3rd swing shift which means he is asleep when they leave for work and doesn't get home until after they have been in bed for a long time.  We'll manage though.

The beginning of school also brought fall weather along with it, which I am loving.  The cooler weather, golden light and changing leaves have been a joy while on walks in the mornings.  I am a fall-winter girl and love bundling up in my cozy sweaters and sweatshirts to enjoy the outdoors.  After taking the kids to school in the morning I go for a walk most mornings at the nature preserve area of our local state park.  The sights, sounds and smells make for a gorgeous way to get in my exercise.  I do have to get some new walking shoes though.  My current ones have mesh sides and are not really up to walking the dirt paths or the dewy-damp of mornings.

I started a "creative project/idea" notebook recently.  The fall season always brings a charge to my creativity but I usually forget much of the ideas that I have.  This year I have been writing down the ideas along with sketches, supplies and any other things that might go along with it all.  I seem to be leaning towards altered books at the moment along with more mixed media stuff.  I have lots of "stuff" I would like to incorporate into some art projects and this notebook is helping me figure out where, with what, and how I might use some of it.  I have some projects to finish before I start digging into these new ones but I know it is going to be fun.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Nature, Kids and Birthdays

I have greatly enjoyed spending all the time we have in the great outdoors this summer.  I have some lovely photos along with wonderful memories and stories.  It is thrilling to have shared some of my precious memories with my own kids and have them creating similar ones themselves.  Hiking, camping, fishing, biking, just sitting in the dappled sunshine next to the river while listening to nature all around are fond memories from my childhood.  I am glad that my kids are excited to spend time outdoors playing and exploring, something we have in common.

DS celebrated his birthday recently with a car themed cake and party items.  Even some of the presents were car themed, or actually cars.  He loves his Hot Wheels cars and the Cars movies.  DS loved having the cute squish mini Cars characters on his cake, which he got to clean off and play with also.  Super cute.

Part of DS's birthday celebration was a trip to the new water pad play area at our local state park.  The kids loved it and had a blast getting wet.  The entire family splashed and played even though I wished the weather could have been a bit warmer.  Mid-seventies are fine but the cool breeze did make for a few shivers.  DH and I thought it was exciting to see the state park so busy.  Tons of people using the water play area, lots of cook-outs, kids using the the playground too.  It is certainly promising to see all the people visiting the area just for the first phase of the water park.  Should be even better when it is finished next year.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Break, Clean and Create

I've been very low-tech for over a month around here.  The kids and I have been busy, mostly out-n-about.  Visits to the library, trips up-north, bike rides, swimming, walking, camping.  It was a nice break actually.  Read some good books and enjoyed the quieter house with less electronics buzzing.  I'm ready to return to technology, enjoy it and keep it at a reasonable level.  During part of my "break" I was busy getting serious with my health.  It is time to get back to healthy eating, plenty of movement and feeling better.  All the fresh fruits and veggies are so deliciously tempting.  Spending plenty of time (and money) walking around the farmer's market. Yum!
Fresh Blueberries and Strawberries

Since the family was busy with life, things started piling up, even on my "art desk".  Because I had to dig through a bunch of stuff to reach most of my supplies I didn't create or work on much.  I spent a little time painting a class sample and mad dashes at my art journal here or there.  The stacks of items were starting to teeter every time I walked by the desk so I finally broke down and cleaned the thing off.  I didn't realize that had been purchasing so many supplies (buttons, ribbons, fibers, paper, inks, etc.) when I did a touch of shopping after teaching a class.  I also didn't realize that I had projects started that I had totally forgotten about.  Now the desk is scrubbed clean, the new supplies are put away, organized and I am feeling refreshed.  Feeling totally charged up and ready to create.

And I have been creating.  One project I've been working on is a mixed media canvas based on the song "On the Street Where You Live" from the musical "My Fair Lady".  I love the movie/musical and the song.  I also like where the piece is going.  I'm inspired to create a series based on the songs and outfits from the movie.  Looking forward to working on it all once the kids start school next month.
On the Street Where You Live, mixed media

Even though my desk was messy I did find a tiny bit of space to play in my art journal.  I had fun using the brayer to smush the paint around my pages for the first time.  It was fun and a good way to use some paints I wouldn't normally use that were left over from class samples.  I have some fun things I can't wait to try after reading the new book "The Art Journal Work Shop" by Traci Bunkers.  Great ideas and prompts, made me so eager to dig back in, good push to clean off my desk too.