Transitions

Hi Everyone,

I hope you and yours are doing well. Those of you still dealing with lockdowns, hang in there. Try to find things you enjoy to relieve the boredom and stress. For those of you who are sick or have family/friends who are sick there are thoughts and prayers for you all as well as those who have lost loved ones during this mess. For my fellow Americans on this Inauguration Day, I am praying for an end to the division in our country and that the transition to a new administration will be peaceful. We really should have advanced more as human beings than to once again resort to violence to solve our problems.

Life here at Crooked Barn Farm (We are seriously considering that as a name for our place. I will show you why one day.) has ungone another transition. Dear Son and Girlfriend have set out on their own again. Hopefully some tenative plans they have will gel soon and I will give an update. It’s much quieter here. Not that they were loud, but the general comings and goings of two other people add to the energy of a place. I’m going to miss them, but it was time. Dear Niece will definitely miss them because DH and I are boring old folks to her.

Yesterday the weather was warm enough for DH and me to work a little in the garden and do other outside projects. I try to soak in any Vitamin D I can get this time of year. Next week is looking like cold and rain again.

I am continuing to paint more wood boards. The flowers in the main photo is my most recent. Possibly this week I will get some listed in my Etsy store. More exciting is that I have walls going up in my studio. DH has been hard at work in there. Since we are having to buy the drywall a little at a time, the plan is to finish the far end and work across. Theoretically when that end is painted (my job) and the window framed out, I can actually start setting up my work space and possibly do some work up there. The lighting is going to be a little tricky and I really need that working to be able to function up there. Progress though!

Hopefully by Spring the worse of it will be done and I can dig out my oil paint and canvas again. There was some organization of my supplies in that mess, but now that DH has had to move boxes around, I have no idea where stuff is. It will be an adventure.

That’s all the news for now. Hopefully things will stay peaceful and quiet here and out there in the world. Stay safe.

Faith, Hope, Love, Grace

Christel

Settling into winter

Hi Everyone!

What can I say? 2021 is so far giving 2020 a run for its money in the crazy department. I know we all hoped it would be different even though I think most of us knew it wouldn’t. I waffle between avoiding what’s going on out there and checking frequently on what’s going on out there. Balance, I guess. Not sticking my head in the sand to pretend all is well, but not dwelling on the “what is going to happen next” thoughts.

Now that the holidays are over and school is back in session, I’m once again attempting a schedule and settling into the slower winter pace. The slower pace is about the only thing I really enjoy about winter. It has been wet, cold and gray here most of January so far and it is so depressing. Thank goodness for our fireplaces, candles and soup.

Here are some recent paintings that I am working on. They are not quite done yet, but close. I’m still working on these wood scraps from our barn and probably will be for a while though I’m itching to get my oil paints back out. Unfortunately I do not have a safe place for oil paintings to hang out while they are drying right now.

I seem to be leaning toward birds at the moment. The kayaker is an outlier for me. I usually avoid landscapes, but I saw a lake and an island or mountains in the wood and decided to work with it. I’m finding that the wood picks my subjects sometime. Same thing with with owl. Today I am sanding and staining more wood to prep for next week’s paintings. Hopefully these current paintings will be in my Etsy shop soon. DH is really liking the owl and I’m kinda attached to the rooster. We are already overrun with my artwork now so we can’t keep everything. Some of it needs to go live with other people and hopefully they will enjoy it as well. I finished painting our hallway on Saturday. That is where most of our family photos and some of my artwork will live. Once I sort all that out there may be a big sale and/or a giveaway through Facebook or Instagram. I will keep you posted on that.

Since we all need to stay on top of our mental health these days, I thought I would share a few YouTube channels that I have been binge watching lately.

Streamline Art Video – I just found this one this past week even though it started with the lockdowns and has been posting almost everyday since March. Lots of quality art instruction from established artists. This old dog is learning some new tricks from these videos!

The Last Homely House – Kate may be my long lost sister from another mother. She is amazingly creative in everything she does. She quilts, sews, knits, crafts, cooks, gardens and is a beekeeper. She did a series where she cleaned out all the drawers in her crafting area. Never in my life would I think that would be interesting, but I found myself mesmerized. She tells stories about some items and I found myself trying to decide if I would keep an item right along with her. It helps that she has piles of creative junk like I do and I know the struggle is real.

Arne and Carlos – Even though these guys are knitting designers their channel is not just for knitters. I have enjoyed their “Sit and Knit a Bit with Arne and Carlos” series no matter what I am working on. They are funny, down to earth and seem like super people. They talk about their life and culture in Norway and just life in general. When Covid goes away and I win the lottery I am going to go to one of their workshops on a cruise through Norway.

Please comment if you have any stress relieving suggestions. We can use all we can get these days.

I’m going to wrap this up now. Currently I have DN practicing her flute here in the living room with me and Dear Son and Girlfriend running the vaccum in the back of the house. Concentration is severely limited! I will look back on this one day and think, “Those were fun times back in 2021”. Right now I am developing a headache. Oh, somewhere on here should be a new email address – christel@bloomtownstudio.com I think it is.

Stay safe out there.

Faith, Hope, Love, Grace,

Christel

Work in progress

Hi Everyone!

Well, I guess we can all say that the party is over and it is back to work. I don’t know about you, but by the time the holidays are over I am more than ready to pack up the decorations and get back to a schedule. Like 2020 though, 2021 is not coming with anything close to a normal schedule. DH is off work for another week and a half, the niece is home this week still and will only be going to school in person two days a week like last semester and the son and his girlfriend are still living here and waiting to hear from job applications. The crazy continues.

Before the end of 2020 I set a goal of getting back to work for at least 20 hours a week. “What the heck does she actually do?”, you ask. I closed my graphic design/print broker business back in 2018 to basically take on full time parenting again after our niece came to live with us in 2017, then my Dad got sick and I made myself available to help with him and take on the whole packing and moving ordeal. Now that DN is in high school and has learned some life skills and Mom seems to be in a good place now that Dad has been gone a year and we have the major remodeling done on the house… I can get back to…

  1. Back in 2017 I started selling my “stuff” that I no longer needed on eBay. Clothes, household items, etc. That sort of morphed into selling vintage “stuff”. Sometimes I sell “stuff” for other people who don’t want to deal with it themselves. It has been a nice, consistent, small stream of income that is very flexible. I have been able to put my store on vacation when we moved and when Dad got very sick, then pick it back up when I had time again. No, I don’t make lots of money with it, but it is one of those things that the more time you put in, the more money you make.
  2. Take a wild guess! Yes, it is time to paint and draw in quantity. Over the holidays I started painting some wood scraps from our barn with seasonal subjects and not only had lots of fun doing it, but sold enough to cover our Christmas expenses. Many, many times I have started this only to have to stop and deal with life stuff. Every time it makes me sad and depressed, but then I have to tell myself that doing something is better than doing nothing. So, once again I am trying my best to set regular work hours this year. Some of the time to paint and draw just for fun and practice and some of the time to put work on some of the sites that I sell my art work on. There is some tired artwork of mine floating around a few places that desperately needs updating!

“So, what the heck does she do the rest of the time?”, you ask. Let me give you an example of a not-so-unusual day that actually happened yesterday.

12:15 am – Dog has seizure #1 (I have spent a week trying to get his new meds ordered and it has been a nightmare). DH and I jump up from a sound sleep, stay with the pup until seizure passes and then wait the next 45 minutes for his disorentation to wear off.

4:15 am – Dog has seizure #2. Same routine. We go back to bed to doze for about an hour.

6:00 am – Go to sunroom to feed cat and realize she is sick. Very concerned and call vet. They can see her if we drop her off by 10 am. This trip fell to DH thank goodness!

8:15 am – Go with my Mom to take her car to get an oil change. Got back home at 8:45.

8:45 am – 11:30 am – Package up three eBay orders and one Etsy order (I have one eBay store and two Etsy stores).

11:30 – 12:30 – start eating lunch, then stop to help pup through seizure #3 (he has never had 3 seizures in 24 hours before), then realize I need to leave for…

12:30 – 2:00 – drop off and pick up library books for DN and drop off packages at the post office. Then head to nearby town (45 minute drive) to pick up son and his girlfriend.

2:00 – 2:30 – stop by vet to pick up cat on my way back from town with DS & GF. She’s fine. Slight cat cold.

2:45 – slide into the driveway long enough to drop of DS & GF and their stuff, pick up DN to get her to band practice.

3:15 – leaving from high school, get a call from Mom that her car is ready. Pick her up, drop her off to get car and head home where I manage an hour of rest before…

5:15 – 5:45 – I go to the high school to pick up DN and head home. Thank goodness DS cooked dinner and DH and I crashed into bed around 7:00 pm to try and recover from our 4 hours of sleep the night before.

And that is where the rest of my time goes. Sometimes it is running Christel’s Taxi Service. Sometimes it is Christel’s Diner. Sometimes it is Christel’s Painting & Handywoman Service. The list goes on.

Ok, enough of that insanity. The other work in progress around here is my attic studio. DH has the insulation up. Not great photos, but we don’t have the lighting up yet so this is as good as it gets. Today he is starting on the drywall. I’m so excited I can hardly stand it. Currently I am trying to do creative stuff from my chair in the living room or the kitchen table. Not optimum conditions, especially where the people who live with me can actually see me and request help with something or have a few dozen questions that need answering. Concentration is difficult. When I finally have a finished studio I am putting a lock on the inside of the door and hanging warning signs!!! I love these people, but…

Next week I will fill in more details about the actual work, but I’m tired from reliving my yesterday.

Be safe out there!

Faith, Hope, Love, Grace,

Christel

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

Hasta La Vista 2020

Hi Everyone!

Well, we are there. Where I’m pretty sure most of us have been wanting to be since at least May. Kicking 2020 out the door! There are defining moments in history that shape each generation. Those dates in time that everyone has a story about. Good or bad they stay with us forever. 2020 will certainly be one of those historical times.

Yes, we would like for all the problems of 2020 to miraculously fix themselves today, on December 31st. Not gonna happen. I’m going to tell you my plans for 2021 and please feel free to share yours. We can all use some inspiration and good ideas going forward.

A couple of weeks something happened. Nothing earth shaking. Just suddenly this feeling of lightness and hope hit me. Pretty weird after all the stress and anxiety for the whole darn 2020. My brain / spirit seemed to say “Things are not going to be great any time soon, but you don’t have to dwell in the gloom. There is always good to be found, things to laugh about, fun to be had and joy to spread around.”

2020 was all about uncertainity and 2021 will still have some of that (every day has some of that), but we know more now. Covid is not miraculously going away, but we have people getting a vaccine, we know it isn’t going to wipe out the whole human race and treatments are improving. The economy is going to SUCK. Yeah, we aren’t going back to where we were, but we know to keep a close eye on our finances, the government, the banks, and opportunities. We know our countries are going to be in turmoil and people are going to be hurting. People act out when they are hurting and fearful.

Here is what else my spirit heard. “Have Faith that things will get better. Have Hope in the good that still lives. Love without ceasing. Give Grace to everyone and yourself. ” Hard to argue with any of that. So those are my words for 2021. Faith, Hope, Love, Grace. Gotta be better than the Gloom, Doom, Fear, Hate that dominated 2020.

I am moving forward with Faith. Now that the worst of the home repairs/remodel are done I can actually focus on painting something more than walls. Now that our old barn has been sturdied up and the horses have actual stalls, we can focus on finishing my attic studio. I have lots of creative plans that I have already started on and will share as we go along.

Alright, go celebrate the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021…in a socially distanced sort of way. Be safe out there.

Faith, Hope, Love, Grace

Christel

Photo by Erwan Hesry on Unsplash

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays!

Hi Everyone,

I am just popping in long enough to wish you all Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! I’m not going to list all the holidays because you can be sure I will forget at least one. Love on someone near you that is struggling in any socially distanced way you can. If you are the one struggling, know that there are places for help. Please search them out and persist. There is light at the end of the troubles.

Whatever you celebrate do it with Faith, Hope, Love and Grace this year!

Christel

Photo by D A V I D S O N L U N A on Unsplash

Wrapping it up

Hi Everyone!

One week until Christmas and I have been wrapping up 2020 literally and figuratively. It is not going to be a big presents under the tree sort of year, but we have a few for the younger crowd. The adults have decided a little Dirty Santa, food and time together will be plenty.

The last of these three drawings got finished up about a week ago. (I purposely made not so great photos of these because of the rampant image theft online). In my mind they are called the Pandemic Flowers. I desperately need better names. I started the first one in February when I was dealing with a kidney stone and the incoming Covid. Like many of you, I have a brain that never shuts up and I needed to focus on something other than pain and anxiety. These drawings were my refuge. This much detail takes getting into that flow where you lose track of time and thought. Whenever the 2020 crazy started to get to me, I worked on these and got my equilibrium back.

What got you through the year? Hopefully not alcohol or drugs, but I have heard their usage was way up this year. I have seen posts and had conversations that included quilting, bread making, wood working, gardening, uncluttering, home remodeling and decorating. Have you noticed that creative endeavors have been our saving grace? I have always declared creativity / art as therapy. Guess we proved that point this year without having to pay for a government research study! Let me know what cool stuff got you through 2020. Post pictures!

I am leaving 2020 behind with a great deal of gratitude. I am grateful that overall (we had a couple of scares this year) everyone in the family has been healthy. I am grateful that my son and his girlfriend completed their epic adventure bicycling across the country during all this, safely and with awesome stories to share. I am grateful for our home and all the projects that kept us busy during the lockdown. I am grateful for the family, friends and neighbors that we have. I am grateful for the three new, healthy grandbabies born into the family this year. I am grateful for the abundant crop of butternut squash. About the only thing that grew well this year… 50 butternuts from 4 seeds! We will eat Butternut everything this winter.

My heart hurts for the overwhelming number of people who have lost their jobs and businesses and are probably facing evictions from their homes soon, for the people struggling to pay the bills and find enough food. For the families who have loved ones in the hospital or facilities and can’t be with them, for the families who have lost loved ones to Covid and anything else and could not be there in the final hours. My heart hurts for all of us on planet Earth right now. We are facing, have been facing, and will continue to face daunting challenges. If you haven’t heard of The Fourth Turning go look it up. We are there and it’s going to take a while to get through it. It’s not all bad, but I believe it will be a tough adjustment.

On December 31st I will fill you in on 2021. Faith, Hope, Love and Grace are in my plans. Be safe out there.

Christel

Gifts Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Reboot

Hello. Is anyone still out there? I can’t blame you if you aren’t after my extended hiatus. So, I will begin again and hope you find me again.

For anyone new who stumbles upon this page let me introduce myself and give you a quick background update. My name is Christel Huttar. This is a blog primarily about my art, but very often life wanders in and random thoughts happen. I used to be very dedicated to writing here and mostly posted every week but at the beginning of 2019 life happened. Lots of life happened quickly. My Dad was diagnosed with cancer, I lost a close friend, we decided to sell our home (a small farm) and move back to where we grew up to help out with Dad, we sold the place in a week, we had to move sooner than expected to a rental, we moved again to our new home, my Dad died, I lost another close friend, COVID invaded and I lost a dear fuzzy, four legged family member. Extreme Reader’s Digest version of the past 24 months.

Basically I have spent my time working through a good bit of grief by making a new home and all that comes with living in an older house. Lots of painting walls instead of canvas and planting in new dirt and getting several equine, canines, feline and chickens adjusted as well.

The cast of characters here includes (this is sometimes a fluid list!): DH (Dear Husband), DN (Dear Niece), Odie & Dinah the canines, Sweetie Pie the feline, KC, Christy, Asher, Cinder the horses, Spark Plug the donkey, DS (Dear Son) and his girlfriend DGF, DD (Dear Daughter) and her husband DSIL. There are also five more grown kids and now a total of nine grandkids!! We also have a few chickens and about 30,000 honeybees. I generally do not use names to protect the innocent or not so innocent, but explain as best I can when any of the characters are involved. My Mom lives across the road from us as well as my sister and BIL.

Even though we are finishing out 2020 in all it’s infamy and heading into Lord only knows what in 2021, I’m feeling more solid and optimistic. I’ve missed hanging out here and creative juicies are flowing again. I have plans. I have an attic studio under construction! I hope you will come back to see what crazy we have stirred up and what I have been making.

Stay safe out there and let’s all shine some love and positive energy into 2021 and leave the dark of 2020.

Christel

Photo by kazuend on Unsplash

My new face

I got in my car and texted my husband, “I hope guys dig scars.”

Hi Everyone,

How are you? It is still crazy out there. Last week was a little crazy here too. A good crazy. My daughter, son-in-law and grandson came to visit for a few days. The weather was cold (it’s JUNE!) and wet, but we still got out enough to introduce Brayden to the horses, donkey, goats, llamas and chickens. A 15 month old brings their own sunshine.

Gratuitous grandson picture with my favorite daughter and favorite donkey.

So here is what is new in my world. Back in January, before the kidney stone incident, I made an appointment with a dermatologist. I had an annoying place on my face that had been there for years. I had had part of it removed 20 years ago, but now it had grown and was blistering up then not healing. I knew it was a basal cell skin cancer so I wasn’t concerned, just annoyed with it. There were a couple of other places that needed checking. Being of Irish German decent pretty much predisposes you to need a dermatologist.

Originally the appointment was to be in June, then got rescheduled to early March. I had three places biopsied and all three were basal cell cancers. Doctor wanted to schedule the removals the next week, but at that time I was still dealing with that darn kidney stone and one can only take so much pain at one time so I put it off until June.

Hello June. I won’t go into all the painful and gory details and I won’t share photos. Let’s just say that the spot on my leg was a breeze. Not so much the two places on my face. First surgery was on the old annoying spot. It was somewhere between the size of a pencil eraser and a dime. I’m thinking 5-6 stitches after it was removed. Try 3 times that many stitches! Yes, I had stitches running down the middle of one side of my face from the inner corner of my eye to about an inch from the corner of my mouth. Whoa! One week later and I have probably a good size hole in my nose that is covered by a skin graft taken from behind my ear. Bandage doesn’t come off until this Friday so I haven’t seen that one yet.

I don’t consider myself particularly vain. Minimal if any makeup most days. Hair is fixed to go out in public. That’s about it. Well, when you see yourself in a mirror looking like you just left the ER after a bar fight…suddenly vanity shows up. I was quite horrified. No one has been as happy about pandemic mask wearing as I have been for the past week!

Ok, stitches came out last Thursday, right after the new hole in my nose was added. I don’t know what my nose will look like, but the stitches are healing nicely on my face. In about 3 months I should know what the final scar will look like. I’m making up exciting stories to tell to nosy people about how I got said scar across my face. I’ve been cutting my own hair during the shut down and I could add a badass haircut to the deal. Creative wheels are turning.

While laying in bed listening to marauding raccoons breaking into our sunroom (that is another whole story for later), I had the thought that my 2020 face goes right along with the 2020 year. It hurt like hell (no lie!) and it has been shocking and scary, but several long time cancers have been removed for good. There are going to be scars, no way around it, but hopefully the worst is over and the healing can begin. I truly hope the same can be said for our world.

You all be safe out there and kind to each other. We still have a lot of 2020 to go yet.

Featured Photo by Johnny Cohen on Unsplash

Is it safe to come out?

Hi Everyone!

Wow, it’s been a long time.  Much longer than I had planned.

I had planned to see if I was ready to get back in the swing of things in January… but, during a visit to Charleston to see my daughter and her family I wound up in the hospital thanks to a kidney stone.  When I got home D. had the flu and I was still dealing with the kidney stone.

February…still walking around with The Stone and feeling crappy and beginning to get concerned about that virus in China.

March…finally got that darn kidney stone removed (it was big and needed surgery) right before the shut down. Very on edge about what was going to happen with COVID-19 and just didn’t have it in me to write.

April…more crazy.  More stress and uncertainty. No motivation.

May…can we just say that the level of crazy had hit epic proportions and we had a garden to plant.

Here we are at June…it’s all still crazy. More so if possible.  This may be the norm now so I decided it’s just time to quit procrastinating and move on into whatever.

I have been doing some artwork that may turn into a series.  In January I started my first art journal.  I have no idea why I decided to do that, but it has been a sanity saver over the past few months. Maybe I will post some of it at the end of the year.  Maybe I won’t. It is not intended to be a great piece of art, but some self expression during what has turned into a historical year.  I am hoping to eventually add on a gallery here that purchases can be made from and completely redo my Etsy shop.  I think it is still on vacation from June of last year.

Today I just wanted to dip my toes back in the water here and let you know we are all doing fine.  I truly hope all of you are safe and healthy.

For those of you who have lost jobs and every day feels like an eternity of worry…I have been in your shoes.  I know the stress.  You are in my prayers.

For those who have lost friends and family during this year, you are in my prayers.  I do not know what it is like to not be with them in the hospital or attend their funeral.  I can only imagine the guilt and the need for normal closure.

For all who are involved in the Black Lives Matter protests (protesters, police officers, National Guard, government officials, concerned citizens), you are in my prayers.

Prayers, that on the other side of this virus, shut down, economic crash, protests, murder hornets, tornados, hurricanes and whatever else 2020 throws at us, we will emerge as stronger, kinder people with a safer, cleaner Earth to continue life on.

I hope to be back next week. Be safe and be kind to each other!

Christel

‘Tis the season

Hi Everyone,

Hope you have been well. I’m sure you have been probably busy.  It’s that time of year.  Since we have minimized the gifting this year my time has been less stressed over the whole Christmas chaos. I even had the mental capacity to face driving down one of the most congested streets in a nearby city to get to the even more congested Costco.  Normally I avoid that area at all costs until mid-January when everyone has returned all the gifts they didn’t like.

I am going to go ahead and wish you all a very Happy Holidays (whichever ones you celebrate) and a Happy New Year.  I need to take a sabbatical for awhile.  Writing this blog has been difficult this year and all the losses and changes have taken a toll.  Even though the art supplies are out and ready to go, I can’t seem to focus enough to make anything right now.  I’m pretty darn bummed about that to be honest.  My brain needs to focus and my heart needs some mending time.

So, until I can regroup, my plan is to bake some cookies, paint the walls in the house, unpack more boxes, love on the people and creatures in my little world.  Hopefully I will be back with some renewed spirit after the first of the year, but I’m going to give myself what time I need.  I have a very bad habit of pushing myself to meet unrealistic, self-imposed deadlines and projects.  If you do that too…stop it, stop it now…it’s not good for you.

Happy Holidays!  Wishing all of us a new and improved 2020!!

Christel