Itchy

Hi Everyone,

It all started last week when I had a head on collision with a honeybee. She panicked and stung my forehead. 

A few days later we took on three tons of mulch spreading in the garden and yard. Evidently I disturbed a few ticks who decided to make a meal out of me. 

Where I found the poison oak I have no idea, but it found me. I’m not really allergic to it but this time it seems to have found its way into my bloodstream and is popping out in little uber itchy spots all over my body. 

To add insult to injury I began to have mystery pain across my right side that took me to the doctor who also decided it was a mystery that would require blood tests this week. During the weekend, before the scheduled tests, the mystery pain began to turn into itchy patches and revealed itself as shingles. 

When I say that it has been a VERY ITCHY week… It’s an understatement. 

So please excuse my brief post today. I can barely focus and of course, my new bees are ready to be picked up. I will be fully suited up for their transfer into their new hives (bees can’t wait for the beekeeper’s recovery). One more itchy spot might be one too many this week!

Hoping you have a no itch week! 

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Spring is MIA!

Hi Everyone,

I hope you had a great week. We are impatiently waiting on Spring. The calendar says it is here but evidently no one told Mother Nature. We had several inches of snow here Saturday night and today is cold and rainy. Where are my 70 degree days??? My toes want to thaw out and walk around without socks. 

This past week was eventful. Thursday my Mom had a health scare and I stayed with her for a few hours in the ER. Because she had recently had knee surgery there was some concern she might have a blood clot, but everything checked out fine and she returned home. 

Saturday I got to spend some time with high school friends at a beginners quilting class that the quilting guild in my hometown held. One of my friends is quite the quilter and ran the class along with several other members of the guild. I have been dabbling in quilting, but had only learned what I could via YouTube and blogs. It was nice to get some real instruction plus get caught up with old friends.  Here is my soon to be finished table quilt. I hope to get it quilted tonight and the binding done by the end of the week. 

Saturday night…more snow. 

I have started several art projects and have a commission I can finally start. I’ve been playing with some new things and processes and finally should have prints of my egg painting in my Etsy shop this week. 

This week Miss L. is on Spring break so yesterday was a marathon shopping day. She has outgrown most of her spring and summer clothes so we needed to get a jump on replacing them before the weather gets warm…eventually. We wore out and ran out of time before we finished so Thursday will probably be another shopping trip. 

I have big plans for Spring cleaning this weekend and continuing on my kitchen remodel. Honestly, my plans always outweigh my time so we shall see. We also have some Easter plans that we hope include some sunshine and warmer weather. 

Oh yeah, the infamous Bob (our always mischievous horse) got out of his stall and turned over all our newly filled cups of soil for seed planting. Insert eye roll here. Just a normal week in Crazyville.

Have a Happy Easter and/or mischievous April Fool’s Day!!

Shifting

Hi Everyone,

Yes, last week I spoke too soon about getting back on my proper schedule. It pretty much fell apart again last week. My Mom had replacement knee surgery last Wednesday so I went and spent part of the day Thursday at the hospital with her. I managed to get a little work done while there, but not much. Writing these posts takes some concentration and it’s pretty much impossible to concentrate at the hospital. Too much going and coming of the staff, answering the phone for her, moving the table around, etc. It was all good but on Friday I had to play catch up. My plan was to write this post yesterday (I could have over the weekend but I will explain that in a minute) but about 7:00 yesterday morning our power went off. Hummmm, not good. It came back on around 2:30ish, just a few minutes before I had to walk out the door to pick up Miss L.  So much for that big plan!

Finally I’m back and I’m thinking I will try for Tuesdays for a while and see if that works better. It seems that the week picks up speed as the days go by. Monday is always busy, but Tuesdays have a slower quality. We’ll see. Anyway, hope all is well in your world. Spring is beginning to show up and in my opinion that makes everything better!

What has been happening here? It’s all sort of a blur. I am still doing some design & printing for clients but slowly winding down. I am still making a once a week trip out to do deliveries of the printing and that pretty much takes up that whole day each week. The estate is closed but there is some lingering paperwork and errands to finish as well as a situation with my late SIL’s headstone that someone at the VA dropped the ball on and we have to start all over with the paperwork again. I will refrain from subjecting you to my thoughts on that.  Miss L has some regular appointments now that keep me on the road. We are trying to get the garden ready between monsoon weeks. Every year it’s a scramble to get the planting done on time, plus we are now a year behind on some much needed repairs and projects that got put on hold after my SIL died last June. 

I have been trying to do some remodeling of the house and that also came to a screeching halt last Spring. My dear husband could not only happily live without electricity, he could happily live in a cave. His rustic hunting lodge home did not fit my esthetic so even before we got married I started updating his house. Our kitchen was SUPPOSED to have been painted in 2017. I FINALLY got started back on that project this month. 

(I’m so sorry this is sooooo copy heavy. Keep going. There ARE pictures!)

Miss L got to go spend the weekend with friends and I took the opportunity of a kid free weekend to tackle not only some kitchen painting but some sewing as well. I love to paint. It doesn’t matter to me if it’s on a canvas or a wall.  D. says I just like the smell of paint. Ok, maybe but I LOVE to change the whole look and feel of a room with a bucket of paint. My kids used to go visit their Dad, come home and find that I had painted a room or two in their absence. I prefer color, but have had to make some compromises because of Mr. Neutral. All walls at either gray or beige now. Yuck. 

I am drawn to the vintage 1930’s -40’s styles, probably because of my memories of my Grandma’s house.  The colors and shapes just feel warm and cozy to me like a favorite quilt.  I have collected furniture, dishes, etc. over the years without realizing they were all from that era. Now we have acquired more from D’s grandparents.  Several things need a fresh coat of paint and there will be color!  The original colors were reds, greens, blues and yellows and for the most part I am going to stick with their original colors. As I move through the process I will include photos. 

My other project this past weekend was some sewing. Have I mentioned that I hate shopping? Thanks to the fabric stash from D.’s late Mom and even some from his Grandmother, I may never need to visit a clothing store or fabric shop again. Miss L. does not like to shop for clothes either so she may benefit from the fabric stash as well if we can find some fabric she likes. She loves some bright colors but I’m not sure how many of those are in the stash.  Anyway, after years and years of not having real pajamas (I was a single parent for 13 years and many personal things went on the back burner to pay for things like braces and sports equipment.) I found a classic pj pattern and saw several posts of them sewn up by lots of people and liked the style. I managed to get the pattern printed out (love that we can download patterns and print them at home now!) this weekend and I took advantage of yesterdays power outage to get the fabric cut. I will post those whenever I actually get to find time to sew them.


I have two new portrait commissions to start and I started several little paintings. I am not enjoying painting that small. There is a very good chance that these will not get finished. I prefer working bigger so you probably won’t see these again. I did finish my egg painting and will have prints for sale in my Etsy store when I get it scanned. 



I think that’s about it for the House of Weird update this week. I should be back next week same time (fingers crossed).

Have a great week and remember that some times you just have to go with the flow! 

It’s about time

Hi Everyone!

Did you notice that I’m back on schedule this week? Woo hoo! I was determined to get a post in before the weekend starts.

Is my To Do list caught up? Not by a long shot but I’m pretty sure it never will be. I finished a knitting project and a commissioned project this week. I don’t have photos of either of them yet though. I will be starting two small portraits soon. Stay tuned for those. 

In my “spare” time I started a new pair of socks. My sock knitting is getting faster. I started these on Monday and am almost to the heel already. This is just squeezing in 10 or 15 minutes here and there, often waiting on an email or supper to finish cooking or waiting for an appointment. Aren’t these the most beautiful colors. Pure joy to hold and knit!


I did a little of this knitting while waiting Tuesday evening for Miss L to be inducted into the honor society. We are so stinking proud of her especially considering the vast numbers of changes that have occurred in her life this year! 


This week I also pulled out several textile art unfinished objects and plan to finally finish them up and put them in my Etsy store. Here is the first. Not quite finished yet but close. I will post them with a link when I get them finished and in the store. 


Muffin had the last of her shots this week and became the celebrity kitty of the day when she willingly sat on EVERYONE’s shoulders at the veterinarian’s. Here she is with two of the doctors. 

We have had more barn drama this week. Something tried to get to Muffin one night and pulled her kitty condo off the table in the barn. She has a spacious large dog crate for a condo so we suspect a coyote. NOT GOOD. Luckily the door latch held and Muffin was safe but everyone has been a bit jumpy this week especially the horses who were the silent witnesses ensconced in their stalls and none too fond of coyotes either. Last night something knocked over Sweetie Pie’s (Muffin’s Mom) crate.  SP doesn’t get locked in because she has excellent barn cat skills and is safer with an escape plan.  She came cruising out to meet me this morning showing no sign of being terrorized. Whew!! Whatever it was decided that the honey racks stored in the feed room (we still need one more door…SOON) would have to do for a midnight snack. Now I have a sticky mess to clean up. Insert bad words here. 

We have a rare and wonderful unscheduled Saturday tomorrow. I have a goal of starting the kitchen remodel that was supposed to happen LAST Spring. Now if I can get the painting and repairs done BEFORE the garden planting and bee season begin I will be doing a happy dance! To accomplish this I must go dig the paint out of the closet in G’s room before she gets here this evening. Gotta go ya’ll. 

May time be on your side this week!

I see Normal!

Hi Everyone,

I’m running a little late this week but better late than never. I hope you had a great week!

As we are winding down this last week of October, off in the distance is a glimmer of light. That thing called Normal Life is coming into view!

Now of course Normal is as subjective as Olympic ice skating, but we all have our own normal. Our normal has forever changed, but we have a good idea of what we want it to be now.

This week we end the weekly and sometimes twice weekly trips to my SIL’s house. There is still more to do but the worst is over and what needed to come out will all be out tomorrow. We get our Wednesdays and Saturdays back!!!

Miss L wraps up her soccer season this week so we get our Tuesdays and Thursdays back!!!!!!!  If we weren’t so far behind on all the things that need to be done on the farm and house I might think we would be bored. Nope. Never happens around here!

Tonight kid# 1 is helping with her National Honor Society Club chicken stew and won’t be here until late, kid #2 has a bonfire/dance/chicken stew at her school (like I have explained in previous posts, chicken stews are a BIG thing around here) and the two exhausted adults are going to enjoy a do nothing evening.

Soooooo, hopefully you all will not have to hear me whine and complain much longer and I can get back to doing the fun, artsy, creative stuff I’m supposed to be writing about. I can tell you that those creative things are going to be taking an interesting turn by the first of the year. I’m so excited to start some new stuff!!!

Have a NORMAL week!

Photo credit Matt  Kochar

Stuff

Hi Everyone!

I hope you have had an excellent week.  We are still thinking of all those folks in Texas cleaning up from Hurricane Harvey and now are watching Hurricane Irma starting to roll in.  Both of my kids are at the coast and we are putting together supplies here in case we need to have another evacuation hurricane party like we did last year during Matthew.  Mother Nature does not cooperate with life plans and I feel for all the people who are trying to decide what moves to make to protect lives and property.

Once again I can’t say that this week has included much artwork or creativity for that matter.  I did ship a print to Australia yesterday.  That was fun.  Guess I’m officially an international artist now (I hope you heard the chuckle I made typing that).

What I have been doing is sorting through yet more and more boxes from my SIL’s estate.  Much of it also comes from my husband’s Mother and his grandparents and even great-grandparents.  Where probably 75% has been general current clothes and household items the other 25% has been some vintage and antiques items that have been interesting to find.  I thought I would include some photos of what is currently laying around my house as we decide what to do with all of this STUFF.

I would hate for you to miss out on my other pile of STUFF…the peas that are begging to be shelled and canned.  This may be the first year EVER that I have looked forward to winter!

IMG-4838

Wishing you a great week.  Stay safe those of you on the East coast.  We will have you in our prayers.

Beans, barns, bees and boredom

Hi Everyone!

How has your July been? Do you feel summer winding down? It has been hot and miserable here for the past couple of weeks. Midday is spent inside. 

This week we decided to enjoy a good dose of boredom around here. Last week was an awful mess of traveling to appointments that resulted in nothing more than frustration, disappointment and stress. Now it’s a waiting game for the attorney and government entities to accomplish something so we can move forward. Boredom has been a good tonic.

Our garden is producing high levels of green beans this year and the tomatoes are putting forth a good effort. Miss L got to try her hand at picking beans. I’m pretty sure she enjoyed it about as much as I did at her age. She also got to see the canning process while Danny canned the first 14 quarts of beans. She was keeping track of the pops the jar lids made as they sealed. We are also consuming green beans frequently at meals.  Last night’s dinner was green beans, potatoes, creamed corn, fresh tomatoes and biscuits. It just doesn’t get any better than that!!

I have been checking on my bees more and feeding them now that most of the blooms are gone. My goal is to get at least two hives through the winter this year. It’s sad to admit that, but with colony losses of 40-50% on average each year now in most places in the United States, you have to brace yourself and hope for the best. I have one hive I’m already concerned over and keeping a close eye on. 

Our keets are having issues. We have lost three of the 16 and have 2 more that aren’t doing well. After some research we think there is a possible vitamin deficiency so Miss L and I made an emergency grocery run for wheat germ and vitamin E this morning. Hopefully that will help. 

It seems like a combination of heat and boredom are making our hens cranky. They can’t free range anymore due to the Thing In The Thicket that has snatched a couple of their coop mates. They seem to be protesting with a decrease in egg prodution. 

I am almost done with the barn drawing commission. I hope to have the finished picture on here next week.  Sooooo close but I can’t show it to you before I show it to my clients.  The boredom and heat have allowed me the time to put in several concentrated hours on it. 

We have enjoyed walks, time with the dogs, cat and some crafty time this week.  Danny has been able to work with Bob several evenings. Books have been read, movies watched, etc.  It has been GOOD!  Next week could get crazy again and August will bring school shopping, soccer and school faster than I’m ready for. I’m going to enjoy one more weekend of “boredom”. 

Hope you find some boredom this week! 

Back Story – Just Bob

Hi Everyone!

Hope you had a great week.  I think last week’s post did not get published. Must have been a tech issue because I wrote it and hit the publish button. My apologies. Guess you will be seeing that next week.

We finally got all the garden planted and can now relax a little until the veggies start coming in.  We also added new members to the farm this past week.  Here are the new little future egg layers.  Danny didn’t think 2-3 eggs a day was enough for us.  We do eat plenty of eggs, but most days we are fine.  On heavy cooking days or when the kids come home to visit, well, we almost have to make a grocery store run for eggs.  The new girls are supposed to be heavy layers, so now we will probably be selling eggs when production sets in.


Last week I showed you a couple of paintings I had finished.  I thought I would give you Bob’s back story today.  I have mentioned him often on this blog because he is Mr. Personality and Mr. Mischief combined.

My husband, Danny, has worked with, trained, owned horses most of his life.  Several years ago there was an elderly neighbor that had reached the point where he was struggling to take care of his horses and asked Danny if he would come help him.  Of course Danny said yes.

When Danny got there he was helping feed and clean up the barn.  I don’t have a clear visual of exactly where Danny found Bob, but somewhere on the property this small yearling had gotten into a place that the elderly gentleman could not reach and was literally down to skin and bones when Danny discovered him.  Realizing that the horse needed immediate attention and not wanting to hurt the gentleman’s dignity, Danny asked if it would be ok to take Bob back to his farm and look after him there and the gentleman could come get him or visit him any time he wanted.  The elderly man told Danny that the horse had been purchased by his wife, who had passed, because Bob was from very good western quarter horse bloodlines. Of course the gentleman never asked for Bob back and passed away a couple of years later.

Danny has been trying to get Bob trained now for at least five years, but life keeps getting in the way.  We are pretty sure that if he ever gets trained he will be an awesome trail horse.  Obviously by this painting, Bob is no longer underweight.  He is a big guy with a big personality and too smart for his own good. Full of curiosity, Bob has become a Houdini horse and somehow gets his big butt out of the fence without breaking it (though he has a history of running through them) and we usually can’t find where he escaped from.

Bob will carry off your tools when you are working in the barn or pasture.  He has chewed paint off the side of my stepson’s truck.  He figured out how to open the pasture gate and let the other horses loose twice in 24 hours before we realized how they were getting out.  Then we wired the gate shut and Bob stood there and loosened the bolts on the other side of the gate with his lips!!  He has knocked the lid off my beehive in his attempt to see what was inside and froze my bees.  Lately, he has found joy in taking his big head and bulldozing through the chickens to watch them run.  I swear you can see him grin when he does it!

Did I mention he is my favorite of the horses here?  Don’t tell the others please.  Yes, he is a royal pain in the rear and I have called him several other names besides “Bob”, but he always has that big ‘ole head stuck out wanting a scratch or rub.  He is the one that always comes up to you as you walk in the pasture and will often walk with you to see where you are going.  As Danny says, ” there isn’t a mean bone in that horse’s body.”

Bob makes me laugh and he makes me cuss, but on the couple of days that I struggled this past year in adjusting to my new life in the country, it was Bob that provided some horse therapy and let me lean on his big side, hug his neck and nibbled on my hand and did that mysterious thing that horses do when they somehow make things better by just being, Just Bob.  And that my friends, is the title of this painting of my friend Bob. Just Bob.

Ok, now I have gotten all choked up.  There will be more paintings of Bob because he likes to model and he needs a job.

Have a great week!

 

All photographs and artwork property and copyright of Christel Huttar.

Sudden Insights, This and That

Hi Everyone!

I wrote the Sudden Insights part of this post a couple of week ago but for some reason it only showed up on my Facebook page.  I’m adding to it this week.  My apologies for the wonkyness.

May 26, 2017: Sudden Insights

Who else is living through monsoon season? We had tornados yesterday in three counties including where my family lives and where we live. We are all safe and unscathed, but there were places with extensive damage. I have not heard of any injuries, but I would be not  be surprised if there were some. Most bad weather you have some time to prepare, but tornadoes are not so kind. I once had a tree go through my bedroom. I still get edgy during a storm thirty years later.

Thanks to a combination of monsoon weather (no gardening can be done in this relentless rain), a holiday week (before the long Memorial Day weekend) and one of my major suppliers moving their location (closed all week) I have had some extra time on my hands. Nope, as tempting as it is, I have not been napping. I have been painting and drawing.

After last week’s post about working on portraits I found myself very stressed and frustrated with the progress on those. In the wee hours of the night (my usual insomnia) I asked myself, “What do you REALLY like to do?”.  I looked at my past work and my Pinterest boards where I save artwork by other people that I like and am inspired by. 

Here is what I discovered:

I definitely do not like doing landscapes. I couldn’t find a single FINISHED landscape in all my past piles of work. Sketches, yes. Started paintings, yes. Other artists’ landscapes, yes. Finished work of my own? No. I have done buildings and house portraits but landscapes of sweeping vistas. No.  Clearly I need to just let that one go unless somewhere in the future I get struck with some sudden change in direction. I will just enjoy the views I see and the beautiful work by other people. 

Portraits of people cause me a great deal of stress.  Commissions especially, but even painting my own kids was stressful. Human faces are so subtle in their detail. A slight deviation of an eyebrow or curve of a lip changes a person into someone else.  It is especially hard to work from photos. So much detail is lost with bad lighting. Kudos to portrait painters who can do a true likeness from photos alone. If I were a portrait artist I would have to require in person sittings at least during part of the process.  The fact that my portraits have all been children or pets compounds the problem. It is a waste of time to try and get either to sit still!  All of my work has had to be with photographs, thus the stress to get it right. 

I won’t say that I will stop doing portraits because they make me dig deep to see, test and hone my skills and work on my patience level, but I think I will limit what I take on knowing how much stress they cause.  There have been times when I have had several right before Christmas and that was not fun.  

So what the heck do I like? THINGS! Seems I might be a still life painter.  Looking at past work and picking out the ones I got the most joy out of were things. Things in nature to be exact. Seashells, gourds, deer skulls, etc.  I like animals too and odd manmade things, particularly with rust involved.  I knew I had hit on something when my brain started popping out ideas like popcorn.  

I guess that all these years I never stopped to analyze what I really enjoyed. My time with pencils or paint was so limited I just jumped at the chance to do SOMETHING.  If you do creative stuff, you know there is such a joy to the process that you crave the time to spend doing it. Music, art, sewing, pottery, etc. is all an encompassing process that takes you out of normal life and into some other realm.  Now that I have some insight I can work accordingly. I can’t say plan accordingly because I rarely plan what my next project will be.  They seem to choose themselves! 

Here are a couple of things I have been working on this rainy week. My first horse painting is finished! Trust me, that is a big leap. 

I need to get back to the easel. Next week the weather clears up and we will probably have to use machetes to weed the garden. There will also be new additions to the farm this coming week that I will introduce you to. Wouldn’t it be horrible to get bored?! Not going to happen around here anytime soon!


June 9, 2017:  This and That

This week is one of those weeks that is hard to describe.  We have enjoyed several lovely evenings outside watching crazy chicken antics, various and assorted wildlife and birds and fun visits with the neighbors.  On the other hand it has involved either learning of the passing of friends’ parents or knowing that several are friends are in the final days or hours with a parent. Days of alternating joy and sadness.

My son is in his second week of his Iceland trip and currently offline in the wilderness there.  My daughter finished her last year of teaching and is transitioning to a new career. Danny and I will celebrate our 1st anniversary.  The ebb and flow of life.

I sought the comfort of my pencils this week with this fish drawing.  After the intensity of my Bob painting last week I needed the meditative process of drawing to ponder life’s changes. 

My thoughts and prayers are with my friends and children as they navigate endings and new beginnings. My thoughts and prayers are with any of you going through the same turbulent waters.

Peace be with you this week.

Back in the saddle

Hi Everyone!

Yes, I am back.  Last week was insane trying to get everything done before leaving for my son’s graduation so I did not make it here before we left.  BUT, here he is in all of his graduation glory and I am one proud Mom!

 

I did barely manage to get the room painting finished before we had to bring back his bed and dresser.  Before with my piles of mess and After before my mess takes over again.  I need to have an art supply yard sale or a better solution would be to win the lottery and build myself a nice big studio. 



 

Now that the big event for the year is over I am SO ready to settle down and get back to work with a routine.  We planted the majority of the garden yesterday so other than the daily weeding I should have a couple of months before I have to stop for the major harvest rituals…picking, canning and freezing.  The bees are settled in though I am adding a swarm from my brother-in-law this weekend.  No more home remodeling until Fall!

 I am setting up my easel in a corner and plan to start back painting today!  For the past year I have held off taking any commission work other than a couple from my daughter.  During the graduation party there were a few inquiries about whether I would be taking any again.  After discussing it with D. on the way home we decided that, yes, it’s time.  I will be adding pet portraits to my Etsy shop hopefully this week and then as soon as I gather some sample work, add people portraits as well.   I will add the links here on the blog when I get them set up.

 I can’t tell you what a relief it is to feel like life is settling down a little and I can get back to the artwork.  My 100 Day Project fell apart, but my goal now is to get back in the saddle and finish out the rest of the summer with some steady work.  Maybe next week I will at least have a sneak peek of what is on the easel.

The flowers are blooming here on the farm and they WILL be making it onto a canvas soon.  Until then, just enjoy the May beauty!  Have a lovely week!