Konmari and a big shovel 

Hi Everyone,

I hope you are off to a great start this week. Once again I apologize for going MIA last week. It turned out much more hectic and stressful than planned. Every day except one was spent running to appointments. Some days had several. I also visited a dear friend who is in the hospital and she is in pretty bad shape right now. That alone took a toll on me. It’s so hard to see someone you love suffering and not be able to do anything to help. 

So this week I’m trying to catch up on the pile of stuff that should have been done last week. I somehow got a good start on the commissioned drawing. Well, actually that happened in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep. It wasn’t a good sleep week either so I have decided that on those nights I’m going to quit laying there trying to solve the world’s problems and quietly do something productive. Luckily drawing is a pretty quiet activity! Here is a sneak peek. 


If you have been reading this crazy blog, you know that I am in a major clean out phase. Unless you have had your head in the sand or like us, don’t watch TV, you have heard about Marie Kondo’s show on Netflix. I know about her because I read her first book several years ago, am reading her second book currently, and it seems like everything I read or watch on YouTube is talking about her right now. Don’t quote me, but I think I saw last week where donations to charities is up by something insane like 336% thank to Ms. Kondo. Last week I helped contribute to that by hauling a stuffed carload of clothes, household items, baby clothes (My babies are 23 and almost 26 years old. It’s past time, don’t ‘cha think! ), books, etc. to a local charity shop.  The hubby has gotten on board and started cleaning out the old tobacco barn which had become the storage unit for broken and unneeded stuff. He took a trailer load of old equipment and I’m afraid to guess what else to the landfill. The two barns are his domain. I have a hands off policy on those. 

I have been doing the 30 day minimalism challenge this month (google it for details, I’m on a time crunch today) so here are my numbers for last week. Decluttered and donated 74 items and trashed 60 items for a total of 133 items. That’s 73 items short of what I needed to do but I still have time this week to meet my 498 items for the month goal. Total items for the month so far is 376!  

If you are a new reader here is the backstory: 1) D. and I got married in 2016 combining 30+ years each of “stuff” that will not fit into his 1300 square foot home thus adding a storage unit to our monthly bills  2) In 2017 his younger sister passed away and her young daughter came to live with us and our already stuffed house became even more crowded. His sister was also the keeper of four generations worth of family stuff and after other family members got what they wanted we were still left with TWO more storage units of stuff to sort through while PAYING FOR. 3) Now we have decided to sell our farm, move back to our hometown and build a slightly larger house. 4) We are NOT GOING TO MOVE ALL THIS STUFF! 

I am doing the challenge to jump start the process as quickly as possible. We will be putting the farm on the market soon and if you have sold a house you know that whole staging and storage thing is a big deal. I am a deadline person also and need the deadline to keep me on track. I appreciate the Konmari method of asking if something “sparks joy”, but frankly I just don’t have the time to be pondering the whole joy thing. I need a timer and a big shovel to get this done! Three weeks in and I still don’t yet see a difference in the house or the storage unit I am currently working on, sooooooo February will be another 30 day challenge. In all likelihood it will continue until the unit is cleared or I have reached burnout and need a new method. 

Are you Konmari-ing your house? Are you watching the show? I would love to have some compadres in this quest for breathing room. Let me know your thoughts and progress. Its lonely out here. Have an awesome week!

Enough already

Ever get tired of listening to yourself? I have been spending hours driving around lately and if I can’t find a distraction on the radio, I’m stuck listening to myself talk inside my head. I’m kinda sick of my own mental ramblings so this week I will spare you as much as I can as well.

Originally I started this blog to document my artistic endeavors, progress and failures. I have more paperwork and supplies piled up to bury me in my studio so this seemed a good way to journal without needing more supplies. If readers happened to join in, the more the merrier and bless those of you who subject yourself to whatever shows up here each week.

Since 2016 has been full of major life changes, the artwork has been, uh, sparse. As in, little of it has been happening here, thus all the ramblings that have been posted.  Accomplishing anything in life seems to be about 90 percent just showing up consistently. So, that is what I have been trying to do. Consistently show up here each week and write something. Good, bad, whatever. I enjoy the writing process even if that is not my main goal. It seems to clear my brain and make room for more and fresh stuff in there.

I am starting to get back to making and creating again. This week I will give you a glimpse into the mess in my studio instead of the mess in my head.

First, I am drowning in fabric. About a year ago I wound up with stacks and stacks of upholstery fabric samples. I am still working on ways to use those. I also HATE to waste things, especially useable fabric that MIGHT be part of an unusable old garment. Picture, boxes of old soccer t-shirts, holey jeans, torn flannel shirts, etc.  If it is still good enough for someone else to use then I happily donate it, but all the others get cut up and either go into my fabric stash or rag bag. So, here is a glimpse of some products soon to be in my Etsy shop as I make new things from old. Not a full disclosure yet because I still need to wash and press them before their debut, but I’m liking the way they are turning out. img_3378

The beginnings of a mixed media series is taking form. I have never had the time to really delve into a series and focus on one subject. This one has been sitting in my head for a very long time patiently waiting for me to get to it.  All I can tell you at the moment is it is exploring learning differences. It comes from watching my kids struggle with dyslexia and the research I did for years trying to find ways to help them.

img_3377Last is my current struggle with painting. I don’t know what happened, but in high school I could make acrylic paint do pretty much whatever I wanted it to do. Here is a sample of a painting I did way back then.

img_3380

Now, I am all over the place and I am really not liking any of them very much.  I think I should be honest and show the good, bad and the ugly here.  Hopefully this is just growing pains, but it has been painful enough that I have considered chucking all the paints! It is an ongoing struggle between hating the process yet being compelled to paint for some reason. Why do we want what we don’t have? I can draw all day long with ease, but I get bored with drawing and discount its importance because it comes fairly easy to me.

So there you have the current situation. The hubs and I will be escaping to the mountains next week for a trip that our kids gave us as a wedding present. If all goes well I will have a post scheduled for you ahead of time. If one doesn’t show up in your feed then life got crazy. We have more big stuff (big to us anyway) on the horizon that I will fill you in on in the next week or two. Hopefully it will improve my creative output. Hint: my current workspace is just not working for me and hopefully a remedy is in the works.

Have a great week!

Floors and bees

Happy Friday!! It is a rainy one here.  Good thing I just have TILING on my To Do list today. Yes friends, I actually stuck tile to floor last week! Check it out.

floor 2Here is what I have learned so far if any of you happen to want to tile your own floor.  1) It is not hard.  2) It IS tedious.  3) It IS messy.  I am still quite the novice at this and have not started cutting tile yet.  If you notice in the picture I just got the whole tiles down.  Today’s challenge is to test the cutter out.  I have a manual cutter and hopefully that will work for the most part.  There are a few pieces that will have to be cut lengthwise and I’m 99% sure my cutter will not do those.  Bless my friend Helen. She has a wet saw we can borrow.

floor 1

My goal is to get all the cut pieces down and mortar set so by Wednesday I can start the grout process.  I need this first room done before we can move on to the rest of the house.  You know, that whole move stuff out of one room so you can do the other room process.

All artwork is on hold probably until July.  There simply is no time.  It is all I can do to keep up with my design work right now.  Gardening season is upon us and D. is chomping at the bit to get seeds in the ground.  I am throwing a box of stuff in the car every trip up to D’s in my attempt to make a SLOW move this time.  My last couple of moves have been fast and stressful. Now that process is reaching critical mass and we are having to make more and more decisions on what stays and what goes and how fast can it go.

Next week my town is having a recycling day.  I am dropping off a carload!  The next weekend the theatre company I work for is having their annual yard sale.  Guess who will be dropping off a TRUCK load?  Can you tell I am beginning to feel a little overwhelmed???

With all this going on I have avoided thinking about spending any time drawing or painting and started distracting myself with gardening ideas.  Too much time on Pinterest will make you crazy.  I started studying medicinal herbs, and decided to expand my herb garden this year.  That started me thinking about my future bees and how to help them.  That lead me to studying permaculture and now I have another whole list of projects for the farm.  Someone please take my ipad away from me or slap me when I am on Pinterest or YouTube!

beephoto-1437514805204-ae0a51951572

Soooo, about those bees.  I spent Easter with Mom & Dad.  Dad got me the bee hive for Christmas and has it put together now.  It’s time to get the bees for it.  The plan was to hopefully get a split from one of his hives.  No such luck this year so I told him to go ahead and get me a nuc when he and my brother-in-law pick up their order next week. Then I asked him when we can get the bees settled in their new home.

Dad sort of hesitated and replied “Well, I need to keep them here for a little while so I can keep an eye on them and make sure they are alright.”  Ok, I have to admit that my thought at that moment was…”Dad, I got your grandchildren to adulthood without losing, starving or maiming them, I think I can handle some bees.”  I refrained.  MAYBE I will get bees these year.

Since I have been slack for the past couple of weeks about including some environmental information I will recommend the documentary Vanishing of the Bees.  The link take you to the website, but you can watch it on Netflix.  We need the bees.

Have a wonderful week and go plant some flowers for the bees this week.

 

Flooring photos by yours truly.

Bee photo credit.

 

 

Quirks

Harmon ParkIt is finally here. Spring and the official start to the floor tiling extravaganza. I know, you have been hearing me talk about it for months now. There may have been a little avoidance/procrastination going on coupled with some unexpected family commitments to delay the process. If all goes well this weekend I will post a photo or two to prove I actually did stick tile to floor.

This past week has consisted of more Spring cleaning than creative endeavors. Yard work last weekend while we had some decent weather then digging things out of storage to be donated to a couple of fundraising yard sales in April as well as a big town recycling event. Time to get rid of the ancient VHS players and old cell phones.

Last Sunday we had a conversation in church that has amused me all week. Who knew that a coffee pot could  cause so much division?

coffee yin yang

Have you ever thought about your personal little pet peeves and quirks? How did you acquire them? I think many of them are passed down through our families. You know, the “that’s the way it’s always been done” effect. Some are in reaction against the way it was done in our families. My sister and I will never wash dishes the way our Mom does because we had to do it her way growing up.

The same quirks you thought were charming in someone when you were dating will drive you to the brink of insanity after a couple of years of marriage. Wars may very well have started over quirks.

Our quirks are part of what makes us each unique beings. As hard as it is sometimes, we really should appreciate and celebrate the quirks in each other. Why does the way someone carries their money in their purse make someone else crazy? Or how towels get folded? That’s one of mine. I fold towels a certain way and that’s the way I want them done. Yep, much of it comes down to control issues. Does it really matter how the towels are folded if they are put up in a cabinet and very few people actually see them? It does to me!

How do you handle someone else’s quirks? How do other people handle yours? Can you find a way to appreciate them or at least compromise before World War Three breaks out?

I have claimed responsibility for my towel folding obsession and just do it myself rather than subjecting family members to “my way.” The same goes for the dishwasher. Have you noticed that the dishwasher is a HUGE issue? It is now understood at my house that my rearranging the dishes is not a statement of anyone else’s inadequacy, but just a hang up of mine. Well, that and the fact that my way is better!

So what was the subject of the church discussion?  One of “my kind” sinned by taking a cup of coffee from the pot that had not yet finished the brewing process. This set off a protest by D’s “kind” that the “sinner” had now effectively ruined the pot of coffee for everyone else! It was soon determined that the class was almost evenly split between the two coffee obsessed factions. It was left to the non-coffee drinkers to mediate. We consider them “heathens”, but for continued peace, love and understanding with our Christian brothers and sisters we practiced forgiveness and grace.

May your week be filled with understanding and grace for others and yourself. Happy Spring and Happy Easter!

 

Harmon Park photo by Christel Williams

Coffee photo credit

 

Happy March!

Some of my winter blues have subsided. It helped when I got these…

tulips 2and that the weather is going to do this… Spring weather

next week!  Spring is almost here.  It hasn’t been a terrible winter, but I don’t handle cold of any kind very well.  I am ready for those 70 degree days.

The flowers inspired me to start this…

tulips

 

It is still a work in progress but it was all I had time to work into the schedule this week.

Today I got the call that we have 40 boxes of tile to pick up so I have to hurry up and finish painting the room I have been working on…IMG_2802

and learn how to lay tile!

I sort of rushed through last week’s post since I was running late.  Ok, so I’m late again this week but not AS late.


 

For the moment I am going to call my little environmental section Healing Home.  I need to call it something so until I or you have a better idea that’s what I’m going with.  Did you read last week’s post?

At the beginning of each season I go through all my clothes and see what needs to go. With Spring almost here I think Spring cleaning is in order.  Today I will start with clothes.

I’m pretty sure most of us at this point probably donate our out grown or out of style clothes, but what do you do with the ones that are stained, torn or threadbare?

Here is some information about just how bad the problem has become with our textile waste.

Before you throw out the worn out clothes, stop and see if they can find a new purpose such as napkins, swiffers or un-paper towels.

Better yet, consider less clothing.  The uniform look has been a “thing” lately or you could try Project 333.  I have sort of blended both.  I am down to about 40 items of clothing (she doesn’t count underwear, socks or work out clothes in Project 333) and most of my clothes are solid colors that mix and match easily.  It is rare that I part with more than four items now in my seasonal purge.

If you are just finding my blog, this section is new and is my small way of simply making us all aware of how badly we need to clean up after ourselves.  You know, that Mom thing just never goes away even after the kids leave home!

Have a great week.  I have to go help D. load up 40 boxes of tile now!

 

 

A bad winter attitude

Where does a week go?  I need for them to slow down a little.  What the heck am I saying? I am in the middle of a major winter blues episode.  No one around me wants time to slow down.  I am cranky, depressed, edgy and any number of other bad adjectives.  This happens every February and lingers until there is sufficient sunlight and warmth.  I NEED FLOWERS!  I NEED SPRING!!!

I will try to get through this post without unleashing any of the bad winter blues on you.  Just be thankful you don’t live with me.

Here is the project I was working on this month.  They decided to reveal the shows this week so I can show the illustrations now in all their glory.  I work for a community theatre and do the show logos for them.  These are for the upcoming 2016-2017 Season.

MASH was fairly cut and dry.  It was somewhat boring until I added the texture.MASH logo low res

Route 66 was my challenge.  They wanted a 50’s feel with neon or a jukebox, but it still needed the sign incorporated and had to be readable.  I had to go look for a tutorial to learn how to make neon in Photoshop.  Who knows if I will  ever need that skill again, but I pulled it off once! This has been the favorite of the four.  Guess the time involved paid off.Route 66 logo low res

Tarzan was the most fun.  I haven’t played with watercolor paints in a long time.  I am pleased with the way it turned out.  I should spend more time with the watercolor paints I think. Tarzan low res

And last, but not least was the Velveteen Rabbit.  A watercolor illustration was requested for this.  Originally I just had the rabbit, but they wanted the boy included.  I will admit that I get intimidated painting people in watercolor.  Well, any paint for that matter.  I am much more comfortable drawing people than painting them.Velveteen Rabbit low res

So those are my most recent projects.  They have been time consuming to say the least and have taken up most of my creative time this month.

As March rolls in I’m afraid my most creative project is going to be tiling floors.  We just ordered 500 square feet of tile last night.  D.H.  is trying to finish the barn and since I am the detail person (and am not capable of lifting rafters on a roof) I will soon be up to my eyeballs in mortar, tile and grout.

As I promised last week, I am starting a little environmental project to add to the end of each weekly post.  I need a name for this.  Any suggestions?  For now, here is a link to a blog post I found interesting this week.  I have been recycling for almost 20 years now, but this made me more aware of little things we overlook.  I am giving up plastic straws at restaurants now and am paying extra for paper plates over styrofoam plates for out wedding reception.

“Why I Don’t Recommend Recycling Plastic”

I am going to go buy myself some flowers and margarita mix at the store today and combat these winter demons.  I hope you can find some sunshine and have a wonderful week!

And a little more education

Happy Halfway Through February!  If you read last week’s post you know that I do not like the month of February.  By now I am getting cabin fever and needing Spring badly.

I’m running behind today so this might be short depending on how my morning goes.  Last week I talked about how I seem to be using YouTube often to learn new things.  No tuition required!  That has been continuing into this week as well.  I have been studying how to install tile.  I will let you know how that goes in a few weeks. Prayers requested.

Here is a little watercolor painting I did last week. It is actually a jungle illustration.  I can show you the finished product in March.

Jungle background 2

What else have I done this week? Oh, I fixed one FABULOUS dinner with a honey sriracha sauce.

I IMG_2762have been leery of taking on Asian cooking since a seriously botched Chinese dish about a decade ago that my children still laugh about.  It was so bad that we actually ate grilled cheese sandwiches instead.

Something that has been increasingly on my mind is the state of our planet Earth.  I have no desire to get into the politics of the environment, and I am not a member of any environmental group, but my intuition is ringing loud and clear that we are very likely on the tipping point of saving or destroying ourselves.  I believe the Earth will recover from our selfishness and arrogance, but we probably will not.

My kids have called me their “hippy momma” forever because I have always been the recycling, vegetarian, food-growing kind of gal.  It just seems to be in my DNA to make my lifestyle as earth friendly as I reasonably can.  Not to say I can’t do better.  I am always looking for little tweaks to improve.  So, starting next week I am just going to add to my posts ways to make small lifestyle adjustments or pass along some information that might be a light bulb moment for someone to take action toward healing our home.

We can pass laws and clamor for corporations and governments to do something to stop ruining our earth, water and air, but it will still come down to human beings taking responsibility for their actions each and every day to stop the destruction of ourselves.  No more ignoring the signs of things to come.  Poverty and suffering are only going to get worse if we don’t clean up the water, air and dirt. I have no control over wars starting or ending and am not even sure that the vote I cast in an election counts, but each little effort I undertake at least makes my tiny minuscule drop in the ocean one better drop.

Aren’t I just a ray of sunshine today? Oh, go out and hug a tree.  You will both feel better.

Have a wonderful week!

 

Clearing out and passing along

As 2015 is coming to an end and 2016 holds some big changes for me, I am ramping up the never ending clearing out and downsizing that is now in its fourth year.  Who knew this would take so very, very long.

This week I unearthed several half finished knitting and crochet projects along with a pile of yarn and a box full of fabric that has lived with me too long.  What the heck to do with all of it? Most of the projects were started originally to use up all the yarn.  Where the heck did all that yarn come from anyway?  I swear there are inanimate objects that reproduce in my house!

knitting

I have three small blankets very close to being done.  I have piles of bits and pieces of random yarn and the fabric is home décor fabric not suitable for clothing or quilts.  After doing some thinking and research I believe I have a plan. My plan is to finish everything and donate them where they can truly be of some use.  If any of you have similar stashes taking up valuable real estate, I am sharing the links below.

As long as I can remember I have hated wasting anything.  I’m not sure if it was how I was raised or just something I was born with, but along with serving me well during tough times it has also driven me nuts. I am not a hoarder.  If anything, my inclination is toward minimalism, but I will hang on to things I don’t need until I can find a useful end to it. I cannot bring myself to throw something away just because I don’t need it or can’t use it anymore.  Goodwill knows me by name.  It is a rare month that I don’t make a drop off of things I have cleaned out.

So, here I am once again trying to find a creative solution to my yarn/fabric problem. Since this seems to be an ongoing thing for me I have started a Pinterest board called “In need”.  If you want to follow it for ideas of where you can contribute search for “Christel Williams” or “In need” and you should be able to find the board.  If you don’t want to go to that much trouble or are not a Pinterest addict like myself, here are a few links.

The blankets are going to either Project Linus or one of the local hospitals/shelters/churches depending on the size and softness of the yarn.  The random bits of yarn are going to be made into scarves for the local homeless shelters and the fabric will be made into a sleeping bag(s) (see the Sleeping Bag Project below. I love it for its emphasis on recycling).

Knit for Kids

The Sleeping Bag Project

Project Linus

Care Wear

Snuggles Project (for our furry friends)

I have not donated to these organizations before, but am making the links available for you to check out.  There are ALWAYS shelters, churches, groups in your local area that are in need of items.  It does not take much work to find them and they are very appreciative.

Wishing you a generous, productive, healthy, safe, peaceful week!

Christel

How to paint a chair…maybe. Part 1

This is my first attempt at a tutorial.  Back on this post I announced my plans to do an art chair for a fundraising event for our local domestic violence shelter, Next Step Ministries.  The chairs are to be auctioned off (hopefully someone will want mine) on September 26th, 2015.

Old ChairThis is the chair I am working on.  As I explained in the earlier post, I had already attempted to paint this chair.  I followed (sort of) directions I found on a few websites where they had successfully painted upholstery on old seen-better-days chairs.  After this attempt I had my doubts about just how successful those chairs turned out.  Mine was stiff and rough after drying.  I had used bottle after bottle of fabric medium mixed with watered down latex paint, applied it in layers, letting the paint dry between layers as instructed.

You can see here what the upholstery originally looked like. original 1 This chair was a hand-me-down chair circa 1970’s is my guess.  I owned absolutely nothing that coordinated with it in all the 25 years I have hauled it from house to house.  It’s a solid chair except for this little problem.  IMG_2311I decided to leave it.  It gives it some human history.  I will share the story in the second part of this tutorial.

So, with nothing to lose except maybe the chair, I am attempting to turn this mess into something cool, or beautiful, funky, or a complete new mess.  I do not have a solid plan at the moment.  This is going to be spontaneous art. My only guide is that I have to like it in case it comes back to live with me again!

IMG_2309My tools – one can of off-white flat latex commercial grade paint I found for $9 on the reject shelf, two sample jars of a golden yellow and soft green paint for $3.50 each, one tub of chalk paint clear wax for a whopping $16 (this is supposed to be the savior of the project and for that price it better be) and various colors of acrylic paints as needed.

Step 1 – give the whole chair one or two (I hope just one) coating of the off white paint to get a solid background.

Check back for Part 2 and see how this all turns out.