January 26, 2009

Old Gold, the Old West, and Feeling Old

Old Gold: one of my latest art endeavors. A sneak peek of a project I just finished... and at the last minute, I might add! These pages are 4 x 4 inches, for a 20-person chunky book swap. The theme is "Touch of Gold" and as usual, my page design got much more involved as it evolved... it turned into collaging, 3D texturing, painting, shading with chalk, stamping, cutting out the tiny stamped images, then putting them all together over the course of 6 hours on Friday night. (so they could be mailed on Saturday, of course, since they are due to the swap hostess by the 30th!!) All those steps were worth it, though- the finished pages turned out beautiful (I think!). I'll show the complete design once the pages are swapped and sent out, but for now you'll have to be content with sneak peeks:

Below is a peek at the upper right corner: this tiny bit includes collaging, painting, stamping, texture paste, stamping, and heat embossing onto vellum... I didn't realize how many techniques I actually used on this one page design!!

Below is the upper right of the back (the back of the pages is decorated, too!) Collaging, painting, stamping with acrylic paint, text printed on the computer, torn paper, and distressing with ink. Now, on to the Old West ... after traveling to Tombstone over Christmas, I got a bit interested in seeing more of the "real" historic pioneering West. We recently started watching the TV show Deadwood on DVD (it was originally shown on HBO), and I really like it a lot. From Amazon: "set in an ungoverned stretch of South Dakota soon after the 1876 Custer massacre, Deadwood concerns a lawless, evolving town attracting fortune-seekers, drifters, tyrants, and burned-out adventurers searching for a card game and a place to die." As the DVD cover says, Deadwood is "a hell of a place to make your fortune." I have never heard the word "cocksucker" so many times an hour in my life (they also use f---" quite a lot), but once you get past the language, it's really quite a good show. I'm sure it's not totally historically accurate, but it gives a good impression of how difficult life in the late 1800s would have been. So far we're up to Episode 7 of Season 1-- there are three seasons total, so there's lots more gold mining, brawling, and scheming to go!
On feeling old: this past weekend, we helped our friend Dennis move... he just purchased his first house, and we helped him move furniture and appliances from his rental house to the new house. We owed him; he's helped us move twice so far since we moved out here, but Boy! was I sore the next day! I was feeling my age (more like twice my age!!) for sure... I think I can still manage to do art, though... haha!! The next swap I have lined up is going to be a really neat one, too- the theme is The Wizard of Oz... stay tuned for sneak peeks of that!!

January 19, 2009

I AM NOT GOOD AT BEING PATIENT. [that's all. thanks for listening.]

New Year's destashing

it's the new year, so that means organizing and cleaning in my art studio... one of the first things I need to do is sort thru my books- I have lots of books and magazines, and I feel bad that I haven't touched some of them in quite a while, so I'm putting them into my Etsy shop for someone else to enjoy and use! All are gently/barely used, and no writing or creases inside. (Check out my Etsy shop, or contact me thru Blogger if you're interested in any of them.) Supply Savvy Scrapbooking- how to make scrapbooking embellishments out of things you have around, and ways to save $$ but still have really cool-looking album pages. 164 pages, published by Creating Keepsakes in 2006. Price: $10 plus shipping (via Media Mail).
Vintage Greeting Cards with Mary Jo McGraw- "how to create handmade cards that capture the look and feel of antiques and heirlooms." Learn techniques for aging paper, how to use unusual materials such as mica, and ways of using metal and non-traditional card-making materials. 128 pages, published 2003. Price: $12 + shipping (via Media Mail).
Our Family Scrapbooks, by Lisa Bearnson and Becky Higgins. from Amazon: "Lisa Bearnson and Becky Higgins share their family albums and give you easy-to-implement ideas for creating your own family albums..." Each album shown also includes a sketch and a bonus layout so you can adapt the ideas to your own photo albums. 164 pages, published by Creating Keepsakes company. Price: $10 + shipping (via Media Mail).
Collage Creations... "over 20 step-by-step creative collage techniques to decorate home decor items and gifts with a range of creative materials from handmade paper and collage ephemera to rubber stamps, paints, and other embellishments." 128 pages, published by North Light Books in 2004. Price: $12 + shipping (via Media Mail).

January 18, 2009

random photos from the past week or so

fun mail earlier this week from my sister Jackie... Our Lady of Guadalupe dishtowel, embroidered on a flour sack towel by my Mom... cool embroidery pattern by Sublime Stitching!
The planet Venus, taken by Tom with our regular digital camera. Taken earlier today thru the telescope in our backyard. Venus has been extraordinarily bright the last few weeks in the early evening and into the night, but it's actually so bright that it can be seen during the day, too... pretty cool, considering Venus is actually 25 million miles away when it's closest to Earth!!
Bisbee's newest trick, "Shake." It's hard to believe she's going to be a year old next month!!
Sedona and Bisbee, actually sharing the chair for a few moments. This is a rare occurrence, since usually when they get close to each other, they end up wrestling and chasing each other thru the house.

January 13, 2009

three words for 2009... (okay, maybe MORE than three words)

okay, so I'm not your typical "New Year's Resolution" maker, especially since it's mid-month already. But, I have been thinking a lot about the new year lately- not "Resolutions" exactly, because from past personal experience, the typical resolutions (exercise, eat healthier, cook more meals, organize the house) seem to go by the wayside very early on. Reva (the creativity coach I've been working with) uses the word "intentions" rather than "resolutions" so that it seems less intimidating... less intimidating is good!

Also, I've seen a lot of blogs, including Ali Edwards', (I've seen it lots more places, too, but hers is the one I remember) that talk about choosing "one word" to live by for the year. I started thinking about that, but it was pretty difficult to distill my intentions for 2009 down to just one word, since I'm a pretty wordy person, and always have been... one of my favorite pasttimes growing up was reading the encyclopedia or dictionary for fun!

Anyway, I came up with three words that sum up my intentions for 2009:


This word encompasses lots of things, one of which is more exploration of my new adopted home here in the Southwest- this region is full of such a rich and colorful history, and I want to see more of it. We did some of that over Christmas when we visited Tombstone (home of the OK Corral gunfight) and San Xavier del Bac Mission (a Catholic mission completed in the year 1797), but there is so much more to see... Las Vegas, Santa Fe, Albequerque, visiting California, re-visiting the Grand Canyon, and seeing some of the multitudes of Native American historical sites in the area. "Explore" also refers to explorations in art and inspiration- there are numerous art and cultural venues in the Phoenix area (and outside it) to be seen and experienced. And last but not least, there are sooo many new techniques and directions that I want to explore in my art- expanding my artistic horizons thru my creativity.


This word is another broad concept reflecting the fact that I am a homebody at heart... my parents built the house I grew up in before I was born, and they still live in it now, so I grew up with that place as the focal point of my childhood. No matter what I say about wanting to explore and travel, our home is the most important "centering place" in my life and I want to give that the attention it deserves. Our home doesn't look like a magazine photo (how could it, with two dogs, two cats, and two full-time jobs!), but I think it's a warm, inviting, comfortable place to "unplug" and relax, and I want to expand on that feeling. We still have a couple undecorated rooms full of the "leftover" furniture that need some attention, and my art studio is more "chaotic" than comfortable, so there are some areas to work on. "Home" to me also means a bit more organization on the home front in the area of home-cooked meals and not so much eating out... (I will never understand how my mom cooked every day and took care of all of us while working a full-time job, but now I finally appreciate the enormity of the task- Thanks, Mom!) And lastly, "home" means the outdoor living space as well, since we live in such a mild climate (except in summer, of course). Our backyard is partially finished, but it needs more landscaping and inviting spaces to sit, relax, and enjoy the beautiful weather and sunshine that Arizona graces us with for so many months of the year.


My last word is "Act" which is also a somewhat broad word... I have a tendency to be somewhat scatterbrained and disorganized, which is surprising considering that all my working life I've been in the highly structured, regulated healthcare industry. Maybe that's why I'm scatterbrained, to rebel against the rules?? Maybe some of it comes from the fact that I'm a Gemini- I have a tendency to get interested in lots of different things, but also get distracted very easily, and have problems actually finishing things once I start them. "Act" is a reminder to do just that- finish things when I start them and follow through on ideas I have instead of letting them languish on the scrap of paper where I scribbled them.

All three of the words are particularly fitting for this year, since this May I am turning 40. (I know, I know! I can hardly believe it myself!!) This year has seen lots of changes already, and will probably see lots more, so the words Explore, Act, and Home will hopefully assist me in remembering what's important to me and what's not, and to expand my personal horizons even more. If I forget, I can re-read this post, and be reminded of my intentions for this year.

(I told you it was wordy; if you've made it to the bottom, thanks for reading!!)

January 06, 2009


I'm just amazed at what you can find when you're blog-hopping around the internet... most of the time I forget to mark sites, so I can't find them later when I want to go back to them. I found this fun blog, Button Floozies, by clicking thru the profile of a member on the blog Creative Every Day... vintage buttons are sooo much fun, and I want to find this site later!!

January 05, 2009

Winter thoughts

I stole this poem from LK Ludwig's blog (she has loads of wonderful journaling, photography, and poetry on her blog, The Poetic Eye- check it out here!), but it completely sums up how I feel about winter... not the cold, damp, sometimes gray and rainy winter that we get here in Arizona, but the crystal-clear, cold-nose and rosy cheeks winter I grew up with in Illinois. (I'm acclimated now- I don't like shoveling snow or driving in a blizzard any more, but I still do miss that magical clarity that a frosty, snowy winter afternoon seems to have.)

Walking Home from Oak-Head (by Mary Oliver)

There is something

about the snow-laden sky

in the winter

in the late afternoon

that brings to the heart elation

and the lovely meaninglessness

of time.

Whenever I get home - whenever

-somebody loves me there.


I stand in the same dark peace

as any pine tree,

or wander on slowly

like the still unhurried wind,


as for a gift,

for the snow to begin

which it does

as first casually,

then, irrepressibly.

Wherever else I live -

in music, in words

in the fires of the heart,

I abide just as deeply

in this nameless, indivisible place, this world,

which is falling apart now,

which is white and wild,

Which is faithful beyond all our expressions of faith,

our deepest prayers.

Don't worry, sooner or later I'll be home.

Red-cheeked from the roused wind,

I'll stand in the doorway

stamping my boots and slapping my hands,

my shoulders

covered with stars.