Routine rescue

Hi Everyone,

Hopefully you have had a great week. Mine has been spent getting back into the routines of home after being away last week. It was hard to leave the little guy and the 73 degree weather. As I drove the five hours north the skies got grayer, then the rain started and I watched the temperature drop steadily until it was 39 degrees in our driveway. I seriously considered turning around and heading back South! 

At least the temps have been somewhat warmer this week even though the gloom still lingers. Trees are beginning to bloom as well as the daffodils and forsythia. Every winter my Grandma would announce over Sunday lunch, “I’m not going to live to see another Spring”.  This went on for many years until it became a family joke. Grandma finally had enough and stated, “one year I will be right!”  I’m beginning to understand how Grandma felt. I swear the winters get longer and I wonder if I’m going to make it through. 

Anyway, Spring is teasing so there’s hope. The routines I’ve been working on the past several months have kicked back in this week, though the impending house listing has put me into renewed decluttering and packing unnessarys with a vengeance and some house cleaning has been put off until tomorrow (Saturday). I prefer to do the boring house stuff during the week and save Saturday for big projects or occasionally some fun. I have not dropped my 30 day minimalism challenge. I will update you on the number of things that have left home at the end of the month. We are also working on another barn clean out. Whew! Too. Much. Stuff.

My routine of drawing/painting one hour a day has gone surprisingly well. I had just started on my recent picture last week when I got the call that baby was on his way. This Monday I started back on it and finished it Thursday. There is likely five hours in this one because I had an extra hour Monday evening to work on it. That’s called “gravy” here in the South. A little something extra special. So this is a pastel painting of our Rhode Island Red chickens. I’m swearing off liquid paint at least for the time being. Pastel is FAST. Excuse the messy edges. I’m giving you the unedited, truth in advertising, version.


I just printed out my next three reference photos so stay tuned. I’m hoping to enter into a contest with next week’s work. That’s it for now. I’m ready for a lazy Friday evening. Have a great weekend! 

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Thank you!

Hi Everyone,

I hope life is sunny where you are. We have rain AGAIN! 

I want to thank all of you who reached out with messages of concern, comfort and encouragement after last week’s post. It meant a great deal and made my heart hurt less. Thank you! Thank you!

My friend passed away on Saturday and even though I attended her funeral on Wednesday it’s not going to sink in until that moment when I really want to tell her something (like the arrival of my grandbaby that she was excited about) and pick up the phone then realize she’s not going to answer. 

My Dad has more tests scheduled this coming week and we expect more bad news. His 84th birthday is Monday and he gets to spend part of it in an MRI machine. We are praying that Baby T arrives that day. That would be a lovely bright spot in the gloom. My bags are in the car and I have as much organized and planned out for D. and Miss L. as I possibly can while I’m gone. Waiting is not one of my talents though. I’m amazed that I have been able to sleep this week. 

I finished the commissioned drawing and delivered it. I had planned to show you a detail this week, but she is gifting it this weekend so I can show you the finished piece in its entirety next week (bear with me if I’m MIA next week though).

Each day I’m trying to get in at least an hour of art time, primarily to save my sanity at the moment.  I’m working on small pieces that I hope to eventually have in my much neglected Etsy shop. Here is a little detail of the current work.


 I have two pieces (the old door and old truck in previous posts) that I am entering in an online juried show. You most certainly will hear about it if one of them gets in. It’s a long shot, but we have to stretch ourselves and take some chances. 

Sorry this is a fairly cut and dry post today. I’m really trying not to think too much right now. I definitely would appreciate prayers and good energy thoughts for a safe, easy labor for my daughter and a healthy baby boy for all of us grandparents to spoil profusely. 

Wishing you a warm and cheery week! 

Be yourself

Hi Everyone!

How is February treating you? We are half way through what I consider the worst month of the year. Honestly it feels like this month is 60 days long. Looking at our projected two week forecast here, I truly believe we are looking at a high likelihood of mildew. Two straight weeks of mildish temperatures and more RAIN. We already have endless mud. Our horses and donkey keep coming in lame where they are slipping and sliding in the mucky pasture. The chickens need boots to keep from miring up to their feathers and I don’t dare let my car run off the edge of our driveway or it will be June before we can retrieve it from the bottomless mud pit. Yeah, fun stuff. 

So to survive February I decided that I absolutely positively have to give myself some daily art time to avoid a major outbreak of cabin fever. At the moment it seems to be working. There is still half of February to go unfortunately. 

I have been giving myself one hour most mornings (life still throws a curve ball at least once a week) and I’m pleased with the progress. The one hour doesn’t cause me guilt for what I’m not getting done around the house and keeps resentment at bay for not getting time for myself. Any evening art time is gravy! 

There has been one breakthrough. Ok, maybe more of just acceptance. Do you have curly hair that you have tried to straighten all your life? Or straight hair you have spent hours curling? Maybe you are a great runner but always wanted to play baseball instead.  I accepted my stick straight, baby fine hair that can’t hold a style longer than my ears, a long time ago. What I have fought against for five ridiculous decades is that I’m not good with paint. Passable maybe, but painting is stressful not relaxing. What I am good at, even as far back as my first crayons, is dry mediums. Give me a pencil and I’m in my element. Colored pencils even better because I have color to play with. Some of us are too hard headed to see what is in front of us (finger pointing directly at my hard head). Finally I am embracing it. I’m not throwing out my acrylics, water colors or gouche paints (though I have considered it many, many times). They will instead, be under paintings. Supporting actors now. 

For Christmas I got a small set of pastel pencils and have excavated my box of unused soft pastels, conte crayons and charcoal. I am pushing myself to learn new things though. Pencil drawings come so easily most of the time that I often get bored so I need some challenges. Soft pastels definitely have a big learning curve. Right now I’m mixing several things together. In about a minute I’m into the flow because I have to concentrate so hard. Finally a form of mediation that works for me. Sitting still, trying to ignore my thoughts only adds anxiety to my life! Here is what I have done or am working on (the building) in the past week. The door is an 8×10 inch piece, but the little girl and building are 5×7 inches. I’m trying to save supplies when I know the experimental stage results in trashed pieces. 


My advice, for what’s it worth, is quit trying to be something you are not. I have recently heard it called “your fantasy self” and that rings true. Don’t waste decades like yours truly struggling to do something that doesn’t suit you. Go with what you are good at naturally. Life is wayyyy too short!! Love your curls. Run your race not someone else’s. 

Fresh air, sunshine and SLEEP

Hi Everyone, 

I hope you are well and life is treating you good going into our 7th month of 2018! Last week I enjoyed several days visiting my daughter, son-in-law and grandpups. Other than an accident the pups got into that resulted in a tooth extraction this week for one of them, it was a relaxing visit and a nice break for me from full time parenting and feeding lots of hungry people and animals. 

Spring is my favorite season, but I think Summer is the best time of year for my body and soul. Yes, there is the heat and humidity, but I handle it much better than the cold plus I don’t spend the hottest part of the day outside anymore. I did that back in my much younger days working in fields for the farmers where I grew up. Now I start my day somewhere around 6:30 – 7:00 am outside feeding who ever D. didn’t get fed before he went to work, then the next hour is spent taking care of garden or yard. 

Everything is quiet and peaceful (as long as you appreciate the sounds of chickens, donkey and bees). I get a daily dose of nature. This week I have seen the tiniest praying mantis and watched my bees working away at the garden blooms. I had a long discussion with our new hens about improving their egg production. Our yard takes days to weed eat so I have had the satisfaction of weed whacking and getting a few long delayed projects done. I get a full dose of vitamin D and all that dripping sweat has to be removing toxins. The fresh air and exercise has brought back SLEEP! After months of stress induced insomnia, I am actually getting 7-8 hours of solid sleep again. I cannot tell you how awesome that feels! 


The rest of my day is work, parenting, cleaning and a return to being a taxi driver to family members. You know, that stuff that either never has an end or the end is far in the future.  My first hour of the day feels like there are some accomplishments anyway. 

Most of the time in this summer the last hour or so of daylight is pretty good too. D. and I go spend some quality time with Spark Plug the donkey. He has three more weeks of confinement until he can join the horses in the pasture. He’s very bored and we feel sorry for him.  D. also gets the trainee horse out for his evening lessons and normally Sweetie Pie the cat joins me in a chair on the front yard and we watch the progress. After his lesson, Walker, the trainee gets a reward of fresh grass (and cuts down on some of the yard mowing) while we hang out with him and wait for the chickens to go into their coop. Yeah, it sounds pretty boring to a lot of folks, but I have lived the rat race and do not miss it.  


I still don’t get as much painting and drawing time as I hoped to have by now, but it’s more than I’ve had since I was a teenager. Tuesday I pretty much finished one fairly large painting. My first ocean scene. Sometimes things show up that I haven’t planned and this is one of them. 


This has been a major taxi week and will be today and tomorrow as well.  This evening I’m picking my son up at the airport from his westward adventure. If climbing a 12,000 foot mountain is your idea of fun then I think he had a great trip. 

Next week Miss L. is gone on her last (as far as I know) week away and I plan to finish painting our kitchen (which has been partially primed for months now). This is my BIG project for this year so forgive me if I don’t post anything next week. 

Get out of the house this week, watch some bugs, pick some flowers and if you have the chance, hug a donkey. It’s good for you…avoid the backside of the donkey though. 

Watching paint dry

Hi Everyone,

How is your week going? Is it rainy like ours is? Rainy as in you need to build an ark like our is? While I was walking the dogs this morning I noticed that our fire pit area is beginning to take on a jungle like demeanor. It will take more than my wimpy weed eater to return it to some form of order. Considering how far behind we are with our garden it may be a full blown jungle by the time we turn our attention that way. Oh well, I would hate for us to run out of things to do around here.

So what am I up to this week you ask? Exciting stuff. Watching paint dry. Seriously. 

This is going to be short and sweet today, because I am experimenting with some unusual possible canvases that I have a ton of and need to use in some way instead of them going to the landfill.  If you have read this blog for awhile you know I hate to waste anything or add to the already horrible environmental mess we have. If this works hopefully I will do a reveal next week.

The portraits are finished but my schedule and the clients’ schedule have not meshed yet so we wait.

I have also been playing with using some old books for the paper and as a journal. More stuff I am trying to save from the landfill. 


And I am going through my artwork stash to see what can be saved, improved upon or just needs to go…to the landfill. Some things you just can’t save and I have some BAD pieces of art that should never see the light of day again. Most I just need to spend some more time on and they will probably have a future. 


On the home front we cleaned out the fourth barn stall that had become “the storage stall”. Not a job we wanted to do but now that we have the trainee horse, he needed a place to eat that Big Bad Bob couldn’t get to. Walker needs some weight. Bob, not so much.  Other than that it’s been fairly quiet here. Miss L. is down to the last few weeks of school. If it stops raining we will be in high garden mode. I’m almost finished with the process of closing my design business. 

I’m going to go check my paint. I hope you have more excitement this week than I have right now! 

The art of frustration 

Hi Everyone,

I hope you are having a lovely week so far. Supposedly we are going to have Spring return here this week. I am very ready for my feet to thaw out!

Did you notice that I posted this on time this week? Want to know why? Nope, it’s not because I finally have my act together. I have misplaced my good drawing paper and cannot continue with the two commissioned drawings until I find it. I am hoping that the distraction of writing will let my brain work on remembering where I put it last. 

Finally I have a week that involves no crisis management of affairs of an estate, Spring Break is over and I have no huge impending deadlines. Yesterday was great! I worked on my Etsy shop, started these two drawings, did a little practice painting all before I had to pick up Miss L.  Today started out pretty much the same way until I realized my drawing paper is missing. Dang! I had two solid hours to work on them.

So here I am, coming into the last month and a half of my thirty year career, all geared up to get down to some serious creative doing and making and I am an organizational mess. Normally I know exactly where everything is unless someone I live with moves it and this happens all too frequently. This time I can’t blame them though. 

In June I will have lived here for two years. In those two years I have had to constantly keep moving my art supplies around.  Either a room is being painted/renovated, someone is visiting or moving in, or every spare inch of space is occupied by stuff that has to be sorted, stored or given away eventually. The frustration level with this situation is very high. Really and truly I am a minimalist at heart but I find I am always living primarily with people who are not. My son is the exception. Right now he lives out of a backpack, but take a wild guess who stores his bed and few boxed possessions. 

My dear husband promises me that one day there will be a separate little art studio that only I have the key to. Looking at our long list of “need to do” items I hope he is planning on adding wheelchair ramp and Geritol dispenser on it. Until then I retreat to my Pinterest board of studio ideas and dream. 

The current reality is that I set up my fold out table in my bonus daughter’s/guest room for the two weeks that she is away and frantically work on my sewing machine and other projects that have to be spread out (I’m a creative mess so most projects fall in this category) then pack it all back up before she returns. Heaven help me if I forget to take the vacuum cleaner out of her closet before setting up the table. In that case, or any other that requires something from that closet, I have to crawl over the bed to the other side, retrieve the item then push or pull it back across the bed.  There are many not so nice words said during this ordeal. 

If the table issue were not enough the fact that I have my most used supplies in…the china cabinet, under our bed, under the love seat, under and on my desk, in a file cabinet in Miss L’s room, beside the sofa, in an end table, on our bookshelf, AND in the master bathroom! The less needed supplies are in our storage unit 20 minutes away and I seem to need them several times a month. Honestly I do not own a store’s worth of supplies. We just have so little space that I have to stick them in every nook and cranny I can find. Trying to find what I need causes some high level frustration. HOPEFULLY as I wind down my design business and clean out files and supplies that I will no longer need, I can begin to consolidate the art supplies and cut down on the frustration. Did I mention that the nearest art supply store is over an hour away by car or two days away via Amazon. Wonder if I can figure out how to make horse hair paint brushes? 

Maybe I should remember to give myself a pat on the back any time I manage to finish ANYTHING.  Here are a couple of finished items from this week. My table quilt from my class got finished. Probably the worst sewing I have done in years but it doesn’t look too bad as long as you don’t look on the back, and a small painting of our cat, Sweetie Pie. I have her eyes too close together but I was focusing on some painting techniques more that worrying about getting everything “right”. 


I am going to make myself some lunch, take some water to the chickens, gather some eggs and make sure I didn’t put my drawing paper in their coop.

May your week have low levels of frustration!

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!

Eggs, eggs, eggs

Hi Everyone,

I hope you had a great week. It’s hard to believe we are almost done with January. Of course the dreaded February is coming. I have a tough time with February and even though it is our shortest month, it always seems like 90 days long to me. I have lots of things in the works or in the planning stage so I hope that will keep my mind off the gloomy winter days.

I’m going to keep this short today because I have a road trip to see my daughter and son-in-law this weekend and haven’t even started packing. Oh yeah, the chicken coop has to be cleaned too before I can go. 

Speaking of chickens, that leads right into what I’m working on now. My 2018 plan is to work on one theme pretty much until I’m sick of it and ready for a new one. After several years now of trial, error (lots of those) and experimenting, I have settled on concentrating on three areas that I never get tired of. Drawing, painting and textiles. I will go into these more as I get through the year.

Right now I am working on eggs! Why eggs, you ask?  Well, because I have always loved the simple shape, light does interesting things to them, there is symbolism involved and last but not least, thanks to our chickens, I have a steady supply. 

So far, I have done this drawing. Sometimes the drawings will be in color pencil, sometimes just charcoal or graphite. I already have my next egg drawing in the planning stage. I’m waiting to see if this one is finished yet.


This painting is still a work in progress. The first picture is the beginning stage and the second is where I am with it now. I had hoped to finish it this week but life got in the way. Hopefully next week I can finish it before I start on another commission piece. I’m pleased so far. I like the light and the graphic lines of the wire egg basket.



I will hopefully have pictures from our trip next week. We have some fun things planned. For now, I hope you have a productive week. I’m going to get to work.