February. Fun or Funk?

Hi Everyone!

How is your February going?  At the moment ours has been fairly mild weatherwise.  Usually February here is our coldest month and longest and dreariest. For a 28 day month it always seems to me it is at least 60 days long.  I’m writing this on February 2nd so we will see how I’m doing by the 28th.

I did work in a little fun this week when my BFFs invited me to join them on a ski trip.  Get this…yours truly went skiing in 10 degree temperatures (wind chills around -10)!  Yes indeedy.  Here we are.  Four layers on top, three layers on bottom, two pairs of socks, two pairs of gloves, face mask, toboggan and goggles made this a fairly comfortable endeavor. Fresh snow, great friends and no lift lines made it awesome!

Do we look warm enough?
Do we look warm enough?

I have managed to cram a full schedule into the February.  I’m going to visit my daughter in Charleston, SC next week.  It would be lovely to have about 75 degrees while I’m there.  The next weekend I start Bee School and that will last five weekends.  Of course it is time to start on the dreaded taxes. Yuck.  I am working on the bathroom remodeling and need to get new bee hives to put together and paint before bees arrive in April.  I have a list of sewing I want to do and last, but not least, I am working, working, working on new artwork.  Hopefully all this will get me through winter without going into my usual funk.

Many of you who read this blog are creative people with blogs of your own, artwork, writing, etc.  I would love to have your help and advice as I throw myself into my artwork and try to get it out into the world.

I am in the process of writing an Artist Statement.  When I read these at show openings I often find them dry and academic.  In other words…boring.  I suspect that is because they are just darn hard to write.  How do you write about yourself without sounding either conceited or weird?  I would like mine to explain why I create stuff and what it’s about without being boring, conceited or weird.  The challenge at the moment is just to figure out why I create stuff and what it’s about!  I am open to suggestions and would love to read yours or someone’s you think did a good job with theirs.

Do you sell work online?  If so, pointers on Titles, Descriptions and Tags would also be appreciated.  Creating art is not nearly as hard as writing all these things.  I am currently on Etsy, Fine Art America and now Red Bubble and Art Pal (still working on this one in case you don’t find much).  If you want to take the time to check these out and send me a critique, I will be happy to listen.

I am not sure what to do with my Etsy shop.  In my attempts to minimalize my life and stuff I am finding that keeping inventory is a royal pain, not to mention shipping.  The print-on-demand stores are very convenient and after the time involved in shipping, probably gives about the same return on investment.  Oh well, it’s there with stuff in it for the moment and I will ponder the future of it as I go along.

Please join in the conversation.  I have been writing this blog for a few years now and it’s lonely out here.  It is time that I heard from more of you.

Stay warm and in case I don’t get a Valentine’s Day post on here, give someone special a hug and/or kiss.  You don’t have to wait until the 14th.  Go ahead. Do it now!

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Hello 2017!

Hello Everyone,

Welcome to 2017. Did you send 2016 out with a bang, or like me, with a whimper?  Sorry for the delay getting this posted on time.  I wrote it way back on Tuesday, but things came up…like a big snow storm…that required attention to little details like getting deliveries to customers before the roads were slick, fighting the crowds in the grocery store before we ran out of food at our house. img_3800

I did, however, start out my 2017 pretty darn well. Historically, I spend my New Year’s Day in my pj’s, curled up on my sofa, under a blanket with a good book.  Admittedly, this is not a bad way to start a new year, but this year it is not in line with my pursuit of Hygge. I am trying my darnedest to foster a better relationship with Old Man Winter.  You will find throughout this blog, my whining and complaining about winter, the cold, the grayness of it all.

In the U.S., our state parks have First Day Hikes lead by Forest Service rangers. I now live very near Hanging Rock State Park that includes a couple of nice mountains and good hiking.   Yes indeedy, yours truly, managed to drag herself out of her nice, warm, cozy house and out into the chilly morning air of January 1, 2017 to go hiking 4.7 miles with approximately 20 people she did not know.   Uphill, no less!

It honestly took extreme will power to overcome my aversion to cold AND my introvert personality. Guess what! It was awesome!!   Perfect not-too-cold weather, considering the number of layers of clothes I was wearing.  The views were magnificent even with some cloud cover.  The company was friendly and the rangers had lots of information and a good sense of humor.

Any Andy Griffith Show fans out there?  Notice the mountain in the distance with the big rock formation on the top?  That, my friends, is Pilot Mountain.  Below it is the town of the same name except in the show it is Mt. Pilot.  Yep, there really is a Mt. Pilot and I have known a few folks, who move to North Carolina from other parts of the country/world, call the town by its fictional name.  There is also a thriving little tourist business there thanks to the show.

So, yes, I felt like I rocked January 1st this year and gave myself a big ‘ole pat on the back.  The hike was over by noon and I quickly got home, changed back into my pj’s, settled in on the sofa with the dogs and a good book and all was well with the world.  For the record, D. had to work and probably was not convinced that his winter hating wife would actually go hiking until he saw photographic evidence.  

This year my goal is to add meat to the pitiful bones of have existed on this blog for a while now as I got through some big life changes. More creating, more thinking, more exploring.  MORE than what I have been giving you.  Thank you for hanging in here with me if you have been here a while.  Welcome if you are just landing here and wondering what goes on.

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago about a book I found and promised to write about it. I’m going to try and not make this too long or you will never come back.  So here is my book story…

From the time I read my first Dick and Jane book (for younger readers, these were our first grade reading books) I have been a voracious reader.   For years and years I normally had three to five books going at once and would panic if I started getting low.   Up until my mid-twenties I generally read novels and then somewhere after that started reading primarily non-fiction.  I noticed a phenomenon happening.  It seemed like I often had just the book I needed to work through a work or life problem virtually fall into my hands.  It could be fiction or non-fiction.

Now I know that I am not the only one to have this experience. Yours may be a podcast, radio show or a person who shows up. God, the universe, spirit, whatever your word for the mysteries of life, shows up just when you need it.  If this has not happened to you, then you need to slow down a little and pay attention.  You are not being ignored.  You are doing the ignoring of what is around you.

This happened so often to me that I got in the habit of wandering around the library saying a little prayer of “God, which one do I need to read today.” Not every trip to the library was life changing, but it made the search much more interesting.

I had strangely gotten away from reading books all the time for some reason (uh, ipad maybe), but I stopped into the local library to find reading material while I am stuck at our shop without wifi. Now, I’m not going to tell you the name of the book that I picked up.  In all likelihood it wouldn’t do a thing for you because you aren’t dealing with the same stuff I am.  But, I picked up a book by an author I had read before.  I thought it was about organizing and downsizing into a smaller home.  Yeah, we still have lots to minimize yet at our house.

What I discovered it was about was clearing out your mental and emotional stuff! Nah, I wouldn’t need that.  Cue the belly laughs from off stage here.

For a couple of months I had been getting crankier and shorter tempered by the day and for the life of me couldn’t figure out why.   Life is good!  What the heck?  As I started reading the book it started talking about how to change old patterns.  Old emotional patterns set up when life held different circumstances and people.  Old coping skills that are no longer working.  Well smack me in the head!  It began to dawn on me that I was trying to use old coping skills for entirely new situations.  I no longer needed the defenses and walls that served me well a decade ago.  I no longer had to pretend to be tough and completely in control like I did when I was a single parent with teenagers.  Thank you Lord!

We get so stuck in our thinking and reactions. The brain gray matter makes these patterned grooves that seem permanent, but they aren’t.  We just have to pay attention to what we are thinking and doing and dissect it down to the roots.  It’s not necessarily easy, but it makes all the difference.  I’m pretty sure D. would tell you that I have been much easier to live with the past couple of weeks.  I haven’t completely broken old habits and patterns, but when I feel a strong reaction coming on I take the time to figure out why instead of just blowing a gasket.  Breathe, breathe, breathe.

So now you have my book story. I would love to hear yours.  Seriously, I think they are some of the coolest human stories when solutions present themselves in mysterious ways.

Have an awesome week!!

Photo credits…all taken by yours truly.

Holiday Haze

Hi Everyone,

There are no deep and thoughtful thoughts today.  I am surrounded by Christmas chaos and a to do list depressingly long.   Winter has set in and my normally cheerful disposition sinks along with the temperatures.

Cold and gloomy, but trying to put on a festive face.

D. and I have been working long hours at his business.  I will have to admit to looking forward to the end of deer season in another month.  Next year he will be retired and hopefully the late night hours will not be so often.

I am pretty sure Amazon loves me this year and the UPS guy hates me.  There have been deliveries every day this week because I have neither the time or inclination to fight my way through stores for Christmas presents.  So far I have not had to step foot inside a single store and only plan for one quick stop to get gift cards this weekend.  That should be the end of the shopping!

I did get this guy finished this week. He doesn’t look terribly festive either.

Decorations have been pretty minimal too.  I got greenery up outside Thanksgiving weekend as well as the Christmas tree.  We have an artificial tree and over the years my son, along with my daughter, were chief tree builders.  I had to do it this year and realized just what a frustrating job it is.

Biggest accomplishment so far has been getting the Christmas tree up and sort of decorated.

Cooking is not happening at the moment either.  No time with all the hours at the shop.  Meals are generally soup and crackers.  Christmas goodies probably are not going to happen at all.  I hope to get our weekly pizza made tonight.  That may be this week’s highlight for food.

Next year I think I will put a note in my calendar to get the Christmas shopping done in July and cook plenty of meals to freeze well before the beginning of deer season.  Right now I feel like a squirrel who can’t find her nuts the day before a blizzard!

I have included a few of this week’s photos to break up this downer of a post.  Hopefully by next week’s post I will have wrangled in the chaos and will be in more cheerful spirits.

We are very thankful for finally get rain after two long months of drought. This was the sky after the rain left. Beautiful rain and beautiful sky.

We did wake up this morning, look out the kitchen window and find Bob the Houdini Horse staring in at us, wanting his breakfast.  Wish I had managed a photo of that!  Leave it to the crazy horse to give us a much needed laugh for the day.

Wishing you a calm, peaceful, organized week!

Hygge

I hope all of you had a wonderful week!  We had a lovely Thanksgiving weekend with most of our families. A few missing kids & grandkids that had other obligations that we should be seeing for Christmas though. I got some quality time with my son while he was home. There are plans in the works for after his graduation that could take him far, far away for a couple of years so I am trying to squeeze in as much time as possible with him.

The impending graduation and possible time abroad for my son set off a new wave of empty nest issues for me last week. Coupled with the onset of winter, the past week or so has been an emotional roller coaster.  I suffer each winter from a medium to serious degree of Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD.  In other words, I endure winter and not happily. Those who live with me, endure me and probably not happily.

During my recent wanderings on Pinterest I ran across this… hygge

It seems that this is how the Danish people get through their long winters without succumbing to cabin fever. You can do your own research on the subject (and there are a few naysayers online), but I like the idea of sanctuary, community, coziness, WARMTH, celebrating and well-being (without resorting to pills).

Since I very recently had a weeping spell over my lost honeybees, I also need to work on letting go of the whole mothering thing now.  Not that I will stop being Mom to my kids, but let go of the need to mother everybody and everything that breathes.  The bees are capable of working out their survival with minimal help from me the same way my kids are now too.  It’s time I look after myself for a change and of course my husband (who does a good job of looking after me when I don’t look after myself very well).

So, I am lighting candles, putting warm, fluffy blankets everywhere, trying to get back to a regular yoga practice, dragging out the long thermal underwear to use for walks in the woods and stocking up on good novels for the winter.  About February, when the worst of the SAD sets in, I will try to remember to give you an update.

**As I am writing this, I just had a text conversation with my son, who suffers from insomnia like I have all my life.  Of course I am giving him suggestions and trying to fix it for him.  Twenty-two years of mothering is a hard habit to break.  Are there 12 step programs for empty nesters???

 

Photo credits:  Hygge photo credit unknown.  Pug photo by Matthew Henry.

 

 

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!

A diligent hibernation

Every winter I wish I were a bear.  The perfect winter in my world would consist of one good snowfall in the middle of the week that would make the roads in the direction of work impassable but the roads to a ski slope open and clear.  After that one snow, sixty-five degree weather would return and winter would be over. If I can’t have it my way, then I should at least be able to eat until I’m fat and happy, then settle in for a long winter’s nap!

Now back to reality.  I have at least been productive so far this winter instead of curling up in my fuzzy robe and hibernating. Not that I have much choice considering in four months I have to move again and throw in a wedding and house remodeling to boot.

purple fabric

Here are some of my accomplishments since January: Hand dyed fabric for a big, upcoming project that I will show you eventually (yes, the purple fabric here),  the wedding invitation designed, kitchen cabinets painted, in the process of learning pattern design, more pillows being made for my Etsy shop and various and assorted art pieces that may or may not see the light of day.

Upcoming projects for February: Probable website changes in works, this weekend begins the priming and painting of two bedrooms, we have to get estimates on some floor repair and pick out new flooring, planning on some socialization time for Odie dog at the park (he seems to be getting more anxious and fearful) and of course the dreaded taxes need to get finished. Whew!

What hasn’t been happening?  House cleaning is at minimal capacity, dogs are not getting their full walks (it’s been cold, wet and nasty many days), cooking is uninspired and limited, social engagements are slim to none. There is always a trade off for productivity.

Things that mess up your tightly packed schedule? This guy!

Bad Bob

Yep, Bad Bob. This week I got a text from D’s neighbors that his horses were out of the pasture.  He was at work, so I got to drive the hour to his house, try to get the three escapees back in the pasture. I was woefully unsuccessful if you must know.  After some discussion with the other neighbor, we deducted that Bad Bob had figured out how to unlatch the pasture gate and had done so twice in less than 24 hours.  The neighbors had already put them back in the pasture once already early that morning! Then I got to drive back the hour home.  About a three hour glitch in my plans.

I have come to conclusion that every living creature has it’s own unique personality complete with good and bad traits.  Bob is eat up with mischief. A horse his size can get into a pile of trouble with that much misdirected smarts.  I think this summer Bad Bob is going to begin some serious training and I’m going to find him a job!

Have a great week! Stay warm wherever you are.