The best laid plans

Hi Everyone,

Let’s talk planning. Are you a planner or a fly by the seat of your pants person? I’m an uber planner married to a flyer. Every day I get up and look in my planner at my pre-planned plan and am ready to start checking those items off. Almost everyday since Christmas those plans have been thwarted, misconjoled, bumfuzzeled and thrown out the window. Between the crazy of the school schedule and the fact that my DH’s employer took the whole month of January off, nothing has gone as planned and I will soon be pushed over the planner’s edge.

Granted, we have gotten several projects done that needed to be done, but all at the expense of my daily plans. Sooooooo, I am at least two weeks behind on artwork I had planned out and listing items in my eBay and Etsy stores. The weather has had some influence on the plans as well. Yesterday I just threw out the day’s entire list because the weather was warm and sunny. We have not had many of those and I desperately needed some Vitamin D. Instead of paying the bills and photographing artwork, I pruned Mom’s apple trees, cleaned out some of my bee supplies, etc. Anything to be outside.

Today I am working through yesterday’s list because winter returned with a cold wind and we are barely above freezing. Unfortunately we did not get any of the predicted snow. Tomorrow we have one of the grands for the day so I have minimal plans made. Maybe Saturday I can get caught up.

Once again I have moved my pile of art supplies. Now that DS and Girlfriend have moved out, I have again migrated to the guest room. It’s still not optimal, but the lighting is much better. The positive side of DH being home for a month is that serious progress has been made on my attic studio. I would go take more photos but it’s freezing up there at the moment. One section is drywalled and mudded. He is at this moment building some doors to cover some storage areas. When he has that done I can actually go up and start painting walls and organizing some supplies.

That’s my update for this week. Not much artsy stuff, but our garden has a layer of fresh compost, my new bee yard is set up, our lower pasture has been bush hogged for future fencing, I have picture ledges installed in our hallway for family pictures, we have discovered a farmer we can get raw milk from, I made butter and farmer’s cheese and Mom’s apple trees are pruned. It’s been crazy, but I guess I can’t complain about my plans going awry.

Stay safe and throw out the plans occasionally.

Faith, Hope, Love, Grace

Christel

Photo by Renáta-Adrienn on Unsplash

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

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

Bits and bobs

Hi Everyone,

To my U.S. readers I hope you have all had a lovely Thanksgiving. Ours came the weekend before when my daughter, son-in-law and grandbaby made it here to celebrate a little early. It was not our best Thanksgiving with my son away, and both my Dad and uncle gone now, but the baby helped provide plenty of joy and laughter.

The rest of the past couple of weeks have been the equivalent of cat wrangling.  My car was in the shop for a month having two recalls fixed. The chimney sweeps have cleaned out our chimneys for the winter. The security company has our security system up and running. D. has been working long hours so I have been doing the critter feed runs by the truck load. Termite inspection is this coming week.  Hopefully most of the house maintenance is about wrapped up.

Crazy me decided that our living room NEEDED to be painted before Christmas. I started Thanksgiving day.  Yesterday I put in 8 full hours of painting. Not smart. Not smart at all.  Under most circumstances 8 hours of painting would easily knock out a room, but the former owners here painted lots of the trim, including two built in bookcases and the fireplace mantel 1980’s dark country blue.  It takes two coats of primer and two coats of the trim paint to cover it up! Ugh! My arm is so tired and sore today. The walls are no where near painted. I am not sure my self imposed deadline is going to happen. We won’t even talk about the ceiling. I had already decided that wasn’t going to happen until after Christmas. I think I will just move on with decorating and work in the painting the best I can before I put myself in the hospital.

Sweetie Pie the cat has proclaimed herself no longer a barn cat, but a pampered sunroom cat.  One of the doors to the sunroom was damaged by the former owners’ dog and it has just enough room for a small cat paw to pry open the door and vice versa. I don’t have it in me to dispute her decision, so I moved her blanket and bed from the barn into the sunroom and now feed Her Majesty there as well.

As if we didn’t have enough mouths to feed, my sister and brother-in-law found nine free goats to add to the two kudzu removal goats we already had working on the family farm.  Ok, they are stinking cute and are doing a grand job of under brushing the land so far.  I think the plan is to move them into the kudzu very soon.  They are much quieter, as efficient or more so than a bulldozer and safer than chemical sprays.

Did I mention last time that I had found my art supplies? Well, I found my paint and got all excited. I was about to bust a seam to paint again. Then I realized that I had paint, but no brushes. Dang! I spent almost an hour trying to find my brushes, but no luck. I pulled out my charcoal and micro pens, but that just didn’t do it for me. In desperation I grabbed a handful of Q-tips! Yes, I did a small painting with Q-tips. Not great, but it kept me from having some bad creative breakdown.  The people who live with me are very thankful for Q-tips now.

I went to bed a couple of nights ago pondering where my paint brushes had disappeared to.  I really wanted to blame the disappearance on the poltergeist that evidently lives in Miss L’s room and takes her stuff on a regular basis. Well, lo and behold, I dreamed about my missing brushes and where they had hidden themselves.  The next morning my first stop was the drawer in my dream and there they were! Joy! Joy! I’m back in business.

It’s time for me to start dragging out the Christmas decorations. Unlike the Christmas crazed 13 year old who lives here, I refuse to decorated before the Turkey Day.  It’s time. The tree is going up in front of the partially painted bay window wall and no one will know the difference when they drive by outside.  Sometimes you just have to give yourself a break and a little grace.

Have a great week!

 

On to the bread box

Hi Everyone,

I apologize for missing last week.  By the time I had time to write, I was too exhausted and escaped into YouTube and Pinterest for what little brain power I had left.

Let’s see, where did I leave off in the ongoing and going and going saga of our epic move?  As of Friday, July 26th, we had been moving for one month and 26 days! If we weren’t physically carrying boxes and furniture, we were doing repairs, sorting, trying to find things and cleaning up. Friday morning we officially packed up the last truckload of stuff, locked the doors for what we hope is the last time and drove away.  We haven’t unloaded that truckload, but it is at least in the same county with us.  We started celebrating in the afternoon.  We have not closed on the property yet though.  We are now on our FIFTH closing date.  Yes, you read that right. FIVE times the closing has been set.  Please cross your fingers, say prayers and send good vibes our way for this coming Wednesday…to actually sign the papers and have it DONE.

We started celebrating the final moving trip because it seemed like it would never end. Add to the physical exhaustion, there is always stress involved with a move and there has been even more stress with Dad’s condition, getting Miss L’s paperwork to school, arranging her 13th birthday party (yes, we officially have another teenager), having her braces put on, D. started a new job, having to go two different places to feed animals, etc. etc. etc.  I have had to apologize for a few stress induced meltdowns.  Have you noticed that everyone and everything seems to hit your last nerve when anxiety and stress lingers for a long time?  My last nerve is worn to a nub.

How did we celebrate? Well, D. saddled up his horse, KC, and went for a nice, two hour trail ride. He rarely gets to do that.  I probably should have warned the neighbors that he could possibly show up on your doorstep to say hello…with KC also standing on their doorstep. Expect it.  At least one neighbor had that happen.  She was not expecting it.

Miss L and I went to the community pool and I read and visited with my sister for awhile when she came to chill by the pool also.  We talk virtually everyday now, but it is usually a run down of how Dad and Mom are doing and what do we need to do that day. She is under the great banking cloud of doom from a merger of the bank she works for with another bank. Daily she has to face the stress of the upcoming layoffs and wondering if she will be with or without a job in the very near future.

Fun times we are having in 2019.  Our friend Alan says it all has to do with Mercury and its place in the heavens. Sounds like a good enough excuse for all this crazy.  Oh, and by the way, a HUGE thank you to our friends Alan and Sharon for helping us wrap up the last of the repairs.  They saved us another weekend or a couple of late nights finishing those.

So my little celebration was a small project that I have been wanting to do for about two years now.  Other than a knitting project I started, there have been no creative endeavors for the past month and 26 days.  If you have read any of these posts you know that I am a much saner person if I am making or gardening.  My current tiny garden is below. It is not big enough for a major stress reliever.

My celebratory project was painting this vintage bread box.  Ok, so it’s not a huge thing, but it is. It is my first project for our future selves.  Everything else we have been doing has involved trying to close out a chapter.  It has often been depressing and hard because we have been waiting to move forward but couldn’t. Now we can.

The bread box belonged to D’s Great-Grandmother and then his Grandmother according to his sister. It was a fixture in his Grandmother’s kitchen as long as he could remember.  Other members of the family may know the actual age, but my best guess is the 1920’s – 1940’s. Now before the antique/vintage purists give me grief about painting it, know that we have no intention of selling it.  We plan to use it and enjoy it as long as it holds together.  That said, it’s cute but needed a fresh coat of paint.  It is going to reside in our new, to us, kitchen that will have a vintage vibe.  I’m glad it was originally red because I have always liked cheerful pops of red in my kitchen.  I have another upcoming paint project that will be having a color change. More on that to come.

So I am happy to report we are closing out a chapter and looking forward to the new one.  If you have been reading this blog lately, you are probably pretty darn happy about that too. I know that my whining has been somewhat endless.  My next goal is to FIND MY ART SUPPLIES!

Here is our freshly painted breadbox!

Have a great week and may your future be bright!

Loading the gypsy wagon

Hi Everyone,

How has your week been? It is becoming summer here. Temps in the 90’s starting today. Just in time for us to start the arduous task of loading the gypsy wagon(s) for our move back home. This will be my fourth move in seven years. I had hoped for it to be my last, but we will have to rent for a while until will decide on our permanent landing. Hopefully we will have that settled before the end of summer. As of right now humans, two dogs and cat will be in one place, chickens, bees and one dog in another, horses and donkey will be in a third location. I knew this was going to be a complicated move, but this exceeds my expectations. 

We are waiting on the results of the home inspection to see what we need to fix before closing. Packing has started. Today I make and start on the list of  calls and forms to switch utilities, mail, etc. (it’s so exciting to know I will have to do it all again in a few months 😦 ). 

Somewhere in all this I need to get an oil change/inspection for my car, two dogs to the vet for their yearly checkups and two girls organized for mission trips that land before and just after we move. D. is looking for a new job where we are going and trying to coordinate the whole horse & donkey move. I’m in charge of chickens. They are probably the easiest to move. 

I started knitting a new sweater last week just to burn off the nervous energy. Wool is not good this time of year but it’s what I had at hand and it serves the purpose. This may be my fastest knit yet. 


I also started this drawing for the same purpose. It’s not finished. Not sure it will be any time soon, but I have to focus more when drawing so it helps to stop that running list circling my brain around and around. Am I the only one who has an OCD brain? I hope not. I would like to know there are more of my people out there.  D. just puts his brain into his “nothing box”. Did you know that there is scientific evidence that men can actually not think about ANYTHING? It’s like they flat line while still being alive! I AM SO FREAKIN’ JEALOUS! I can come out of a dead sleep because my brain is simulaneously running three different To Do lists at the same time. 

Sooooooooooo, it is highly doubtful that I will be posting here for a few weeks. If I can, I will, but next week will be all about changing addresses and packing. Official moving begins June 1st. There is an enormous amount of organizing and moving to make sure the chickens are not in the pasture and the horses in the rental house. I also have no idea when I will have wifi again after the move. 

For those of you in the U.S. enjoy the Memorial Day holiday, but please take time to remember why we celebrate the lives of those who sacrificed their future so we would retain the freedom we so often take for granted. For everyone, be safe and be happy. 

Boy in red wagon photo credit – Blake Meyer 

Full on crazy

Hi Everyone,

Yes, I was missing in action last week. I was going to give you a day to day run down of what last week was like but it’s too exhausting to look back on. 

Primarily we got our home and property officially up for sale and in one week have had eight showings. Some days we have had up to three in one day. We know that this has been the initial rush and that it should be slowing down soon, but our normal life has been put on hold. We wanted to get the place listed this Spring because we know it is going to probably be more of a marathon than a sprint. Our place is not everyone’s cup of tea. We are very secluded in a very rural area where the nearest grocery store is almost a half hour drive away. The plus side is that there are very few properties available out here. 

We still have ongoing projects to do, like the new ceiling fan we installed yesterday and the new heat pump that is going in tomorrow. Throw in a lawn mower that has been in the repair shop for a month and a sick dog and a Dad who is sick…

Obviously no artwork has been done. I did finish the sweater I started knitting in December, but it immediately got stuffed in a drawer and probably won’t see daylight until Fall. 


The flowers are blooming and the weather has been wonderful! We have turnip greens and kale coming in faster than I can pick it and the honeybees are having a great honey flow so far. The kids are doing good. One got accepted into NC State Veteraninary School and we are super excited for her! Life is doing what life does with all its challenges and glory. 

I hope to stay the course with my weekly posts, but life happens so bear with me if I don’t. “Thank you” to my friends who celebrate, commiserate and advise us through all this. You know who you are and I love you bunches.

Have an awesome week!!!

The struggle is real

Hi Everyone!

I hope life has been treating you well while I was away. We had a lovely Easter weekend in Charleston, SC with my daughter, son-in-law and grandson. The drive down was somewhat stressful as we dodged severe thunderstorms from our house all the way there. We were carrying cargo of a handmade dining room table that my brother-in-law made for their new house and a rocking horse he made years ago for my daughter when she was a baby, that I am now passing down to Brayden. Precious stuff that we did not want ruined in the rain. Yes, we had both carefully covered, but driving a truck at 70 mph seems to force rain into every nook and cranny. Luckily we managed to miss the worst of in, but did endure long waits in traffic due to wrecks and downed trees. What normally takes 5 hours took more like 7.

Enjoy the struggle for the perfect family portrait! 


The rest of the weekend we helped landscape their backyard, explored their HUGE neighborhood and cooked an Easter feast Sunday morning before heading home. We were thankful for nice weather, normal drive time on the way back and for our awesome neighbors who chicken sat and looked after the place while we were gone. 

Now we are back to reality and this week has been a doozy. Lots of driving to appointments and errands plus a couple of hours rearranging storage units as we cram more stuff in. People have asked me why I am still keeping up with how much I declutter. The reason is that while our house now looks more open and spacious, the storage units look just as crammed full as ever and if I didn’t know how much has left I would still be overwhelmed by it all. 

Because we have no idea what we will eventually want to keep in our new house, we don’t want to get rid of the quality furniture yet. We have now consolidated all the furniture into one unit and when this place sells we may have to add more to it depending on where we live during the house construction. 

The second unit now has one half full of stuff we have packed up that we want to keep, but do not NEED right now. Uh, those boxes of family photos, extra pillows, hunting gear (sigh), ART SUPPLIES, etc.  The other half is still stuff that I have to clean out. The third unit now HAPPILY has a walkway down the middle and shelving to store things. This is the stuff I have to finish cleaning out from my former life.  Ideally we would get rid of this one when I’m done, but we are afraid we will need it to store some of our current furniture if we have to downsize to a two bedroom home while we are building. It’s all very complicated! 

This coming week the house officially goes on the market and I have one problem area of the house to finish clearing out. We have had our lawnmower in the shop for repairs since February. We are praying it will be done today so we don’t have to keep borrowing a friend’s mower. There is a list of small repairs that we will be working on for a few more weeks and of course the dang HVAC has to be fixed. Arrrrrgh. 

To add to the fun, we have to finish cleaning out the tool shed that includes my large stack of beekeeping supplies and I will have to become the cleaning Nazi every day, not just on the weekend.  I have to give some cred to Miss L. because she has very dutifully sorted through and packed up a great deal of her stuff. We will finish up her room today. It’s not easy for a twelve year old to go minimalist! 


Have I done any artwork you ask? Not much. I got about an hour and a half in on this sketch Monday. That’s all for the week. Will I be able to return to my hour a day schedule? I am having doubts.  Staying on top of the cleaning and yard work while showing the house will probably be my full time job. While we only planted some greens in the garden here, we are hoping to plant some basics in my parents garden. Since they can no longer maintain a garden we will be taking over that…an hours drive away. There is also that whole problem of clearing land for a pasture, building a barn, finding a place for apple trees and all the flowers and herbs we will be taking with us. It’s VERY complicated! 

For the record I’m not complaining, really I’m not. I see progress and am more than ready to make the move, but this will be, by far, the most complicated move I have ever made and I think D. would say the same. We decide each week what the two or three most important projects are, focus on those and try not to think too much about the rest until they are priorty. 

If you are facing a big ‘ole project or problem, my only advice is break it down into manageable chunks, then try not to lose sleep over the remainder. I will go now and try to take my own advice. Have a great week!