Monday, April 30, 2007

Wretched Wreck of a Summer Challenge

I am entirely ashamed to post this photo -- but this is where it began. Actually, this is the middle. Where this mess began was as a rotting deck with floor joists so wide, 4', that walking from the front to the back of this thing felt like traversing a fun house floor.

Sometimes it is hard to figure what to do first. In this case, the garage roof needed replacing. There were trees that HAD to go, the fence was falling down and this deck was a wreck..... what to do, what to do? As it was necessary, I did replace the garage roof two years ago so I could have my workshop -- sawing lumber in the dining room is not the ideal situation one might think. Then as luck would have it a big storm brought a tree down upon the fence and I ended up with a two-for-one special. But it was unexpected and I am really more of a "plan for it" kind of girl.
So, here I am, half the rotting deck is ripped up. And this is my Wretched Wreck Summer Challenge: to make a silk purse outta this sow's ear. Much as I could cry, and I welcome you to sit down and cry with me, I plan to do a little something on this mess every week. Every Monday I'll share pictures. Let's see how soon we get it all cleaned up, shiny new. Woo, better get busy.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

A Little Lunch and a Chuckle

Fact of the matter is today I'm in the workshop coming up with a burfrise (surprise) for my little boy's upcoming baby boy. What ever could it be? Here is a hint... it is made of wood... and I'll show more when it's closer to being finished. Here's a peek:

Can you guess what it is?

It's comfy in the workshop today. Each day this week I've needed my heaters. And longjohns, at least in the mornings. But today it's nice, not yet ready for fans, but no longjohns required. My fingers have not gone numb. So I didn't want to leave, not even for lunch, but finally my tummy was growling, protesting against prolonged hunger. I came in for a bite.

I love these tiny sandwiches -- I make them with party breads which gives me just enough lunch and of course it lends a festive feel to the middle of my workday. It's the little things. Isn't it cute?

But the best part of lunch was blog cruising for a few minutes and I found a funny post on my friend Linda's blog, Oblique Angles . Linda used to write for the soaps and I am guessing that some of the more outlandish plot lines sprang from her funny sense of humor. One never knows what irony lives in the minds of men (and women.) Next time you are sitting at a bus stop or waiting in line at the bank, look around at the people nearby. They might be like my friend, Linda, standing around like normal people when clearly they are not, not normal at all. Go check out her silly post -- she cracks me up.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A Treasured Life and a Place to Keep It

Even after the snow has ceased, replaced by birds and daffodils, lawn mowers whirring, for me it is never really spring till the graduation announcements arrive. This is the time of year when the children of my friends, neighbors and acquaintances, for whom I have babysat, bought sidewalk chalk, shown how to play jacks, are stepping up to the edge of the nest and daring to fly off on their own.

Some of these kids I know really well, some hardly at all, but for each of them, whether I know them or not, their high school or college graduation is a very big deal. I used to be completely stumped in the appropriate and correct graduation gift department. Wedding gifts are easy -- Money. Baby gifts are fun and easy --- something cute and money. But graduation... Just plain money? An anonymous compulsory nondescript white envelope of cash, check or gift card? No fun for the donor, too disconnected for the recipient.

I don't have a problem with gifts of cash simply because they are cash. In disagreement with some, I think cash can be a good gift, a great gift. It can be combined with other gifts and something truly useful and even wonderfully much needed can be had. And I always trust that the recipient knows just what to do with a gift of cash. But I also like a gift to mean something. When I am invited to a bridal shower or a housewarming, I always give a cleaning bucket packed with all the required supplies of cleansers and polishes, cleaning rags and scrub brushes. For one thing this is the stuff that newlyweds and homeowners have to have, also it's no fun at all to buy. Never mind the symbolism about the journey of life being messy and the required regularity to clean it up.

But for a graduate the gift giving isn't so obvious. I want to give... knowledge and support, encouragement and applause, all the valuable little treasures.... Well there it is, so obvious... what I want to give to a graduate is the treasure of life -- the treasure of him or herself, the treasure of the future, the treasure of all things costly and inane and a place to keep them.

And so, for the graduates in my life this is the time of year when I make, or rather adorn, little wooden treasure boxes, little containers of nothing that with paint and ribbon and bits of fabrics and floss I turn into something. And then I stick a check inside.
Here are some more:

Monday, April 23, 2007

A Wee Piece of Art for Art's Sake

Not so long ago I hadn't even heard of ATC's (Artist Trading Cards). From the first one I saw I was delighted and couldn't get enough. In fact I found a site that featured page after page of dozens and dozens of wee little ATC's. They were wonderful, remarkable, enchanting. I gobbled them up.

If you've never heard of them either, ATC's are tiny pieces of art, about the size of a business card, created for art's sake. ATC's can be stamped, embossed, collaged or flocked.... (oh wait, an ocean just flooded into my head to flock then stamp.... ok, I'm back).

Because they are so tiny there is very little commitment involved. A person can create an ATC within a scant few minutes (or fiddle with it most of the afternoon and into the next day too, I suppose). A little of this, a piece of that. But, I found myself oddly afraid. "What if...?" Yet, there was no ending to that question. "What if what?" That was my "ah ha" moment. "What if it's ugly? What if it's stupid? What if I hate it? What if it hates me?" So I didn't create any ATC's of my own, rather I adored those made by others, from afar.

Then that really smart, creative, gutsy Vallen over at Queenly Things organized an ATC swap. Before I knew what I was doing, which is my want, I jumped in. "Me too, me too, include me." And there I was... committed... though still facing those hard "what if" questions. Well, what if? What if it IS ugly? What if I DO hate it? What if it DOES hate me? Well, if so, then I have spent only a scant few minutes and a mere 2 1/2" x 3" of space on something that may or may not work out. It's only a wee piece of art -- I can risk that.

And I think this is my new motto: It's only a wee piece of art -- I can RISK that.
(Vallen's only ATC requirement was that the card be "frameable" -- because ATC's are so tiny they are frequently hidden away. So I made the card AND the frame, which is really a scrap of lumber with ribbon holes drilled in. The card is held onto the "frame" with straps of elastic. Also, that Tyrolian totsy executing her best curtsey is my grandmother, taken about the same time women got the right to vote -- I use her photos quite a lot. I like the idea of my little ATC hanging on a wall or a cabinet door somewhere. Everybody curtsey now.)

Friday, April 20, 2007

Drum Roll, Please

Yes, much as we all need a little magic, we do have a winner of the charming deep peach magical wand. It was a very close call, you know. However, after consulting with my Board of Directors, Natalie, Talia and Bailey, the winner is She'sSewPretty!! Talia, being a Mommy's Girl to the core was horrified that She'sSewPretty might actually POOF her from hither to thither and with it G'Bye Gravy Train, or rather G'Bye Beef Bowl. But Bailey and Natalie, being opportunists, thought it worth the risk that Talia might in fact get POOFED from hither to thither. Natalie, really, is neither here nor there on the subject, but Bailey would very much like to see that happen. So Talia was out-voted. I then assured her that even if She'sSewPretty did POOF Talia she would instantly POOF her spoiled little self right back again. Besides, anyone who would use up a completely bonafide magical POOF on a pretty-pretty puppy, when she could have just as easily POOF fame, riches or clean dishes forever, must be the dearest kindest Potential Poofer anywhere in all the magical land. That's when Talia quit whimpering and is now eager, from the security of hiding behind her Mommy's ankles, to congratulate She'sSewPretty for her spectacular win of the enchanting deep peach Magical Wand and Spellbinding Spell Book. Please do contact me to collect your winnings.

And Thank You everyone for playing along.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Win-It-Wednesday ~ Who Doesn't Need a Little Magic?

If these aren't the most charming magical wands I'll eat my princess hat...

This being tax week seems an especially appropriate time to wave about a little magic. And when you think about it there are endless occasions to cast a spell and wave a glittery-glimmery magical wand. When the boss is on the war path, Poof. After the drain has backed up for the gazillionth time and even the plumber is at his witt's end. Poof Poof.

Who doesn't need a little happy magic? This magical wand happens to come with it's own delightful spell book guarding against pop quizzes and bad boyfriends, but I bet you have your own spellbinding reasons for needing a little magic.

So, here is the question to answer to win your very own Magical Wand: Whether for triumph or disaster, for what reason would you wave your very own magical wand? The most enchanting answer wins. Do tell.

Drawing will be held Friday -- for those of you who read my blog in the middle of the night you get a bit of a jump on the day time blog people, but bless you for being up and keeping the blog reading world spinning.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Not Invited to the Ball... Oh My

Are these not the saddest, sorriest, most pitiful faces? They are moping and sad and gloomy faces. Left out, ignored, neglected. These are the faces of dogs, and a cat, who were not invited to the Ball. Worse yet, their Mommy is the Ball Master -- the maker of all things frivolous and fun... So while I was making party hats and favors, magical wands and froggies for Party Princesses toToss Back into the Pond, my own Princesses were bored, bored, bored. Natalie, the black and brown dog on the right, looks especially accusatory. Bailey, the black cat is more resigned, "Go ahead, do your party, just don't be surprised to find a mouse in your shoe... maybe not today... but someday... " Little Talia, though, maybe because she is in the back corner, maybe because she is so pale makes her seem more needy, but she looks so left out and forlorn. I'm thinking an extra piece of bacon is in order.

I think you'll agree that the hats turned out really well. There were pink ones and orange ones and green ones. There was a specially only one Purple one for the Birthday Girl who's very favorite most color of all is purple. And we played Toss the Froggy Back -- you know that frog who endlessly wants to kiss princesses -- as a card carrying Liberated Woman (does anyone say that anymore? Does anyone even know what that means anymore?) Anyway, it seems appropriate to me to Toss the Froggy Back in the Pond. We made Magical Wands because every princess needs one. And we Paid the King's Ransom which is a game I completely made up because we needed one. It was a really fun party. I didn't make the food or the cake for this one, but I can say they were delicious. And now I am thinking that to make up for neglecting those poor pitiful dogs, and the cat, I need to save my bacon with a bit of bacon. Do you think they can be bribed into happiness and loving me again with mere bacon? I think so too.

Friday, April 13, 2007


Have you made something that makes you smile from the inside out? A quilt, a garden, a birthday card... some big or little something that makes you swell with delight every time you take a peek? For me I think that thing is this pet dinette. I have only recently finished it... this one was hard. For one thing the antique bowl is very formal -- it requires more than mere ribbons... but silk? Even the daintiest dog can be sloppy. This is taffeta, dyed to the precise shade of green. I love to dye fabrics -- nothing hard or unhappy about that for me. The hard part, really, was getting the bowl to fit right. It is fluted. A plain round hole leaves a fluted bowl.... floppy. The tray had to be precisely cut to fit the flutes. Now that it does I am tickled. What do you think? Is it pretty darn cute? How would this look in your kitchen?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Tagged, I'm Happily IT

I'm entirely thrilled to have been tagged by Tracey over at A Cottage Industry as a Thinking Blog!!! How nice is that? The way it works is that we're to select 5 favorite blogs... only 5!?! Well, that's hard... But these are the five blogs I find myself going to again and again... I do love them so.

Hands down, Francie's funny, charming blog, The Scented Cottage , is such a pretty face that I am instantly taken in. Only later do I realize how smart this little blog is -- but I am slow like that.

Sharon's blog, Cest-chouette is filled with such lovely rescued needlepoint pillows that I find myself daydreaming about which ones to choose for the sofa, which ones for the bed. She does an awesome job selecting silks and trims to save these exquisite textiles for another generation.

What's not to love about Vallen's Queenly Things -- she is nice, smart, funny, and endlessly talented. Best still, she seems to have a bit of a mischievous streak. What could be better than that?.

At I am enamored of Mare's pink-pink-pink work room and to vivid tales of her sons encounters with motocross and as caped super heroes. Also she quilts -- which I could watch someone else do all the live long day.

I've come late to Rhoda's but it is a calming blog and a smart one. I learn little hospitable ways every time I go there -- ways to make my guests feel most welcomed.

So, when you get a moment or so of time saved up, nestle yourself into a comfy spot and make the rounds. Enjoy.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Artfully Lighting the Way

Some of you may know that each and every week I teach a few arts and crafts classes at assisted living centers with little old ladies. Also I hold classes at local library branches. So each and every week I have to come up with a new and different project... that they will like. Kids at the libraries are easy. A little glue, a little glitter and they are happy-happy-happy. The Little Old Ladies, however, are a different story. They are more cynical, more demanding. And if their project isn't easy enough it is my fault. And if their easy project isn't beautiful it is my fault. And if their easy, beautiful project serves absolutely no purpose, it is my fault. Sheesh. I am in it no matter where I step.

Little Old Ladies never say they are disenchanted with the current easy-beautiful-useful project... rather they ever so slightly curl an upper lip and hum. It is disconcerting. But this week's project, meeting all the criteria, was a hit. A huge HIT. It was EASY. It was BEAUTIFUL. It was USEFUL. They will be talking about this one for years. And from my point of view it was cheap-cheap-cheap, in fact free!!!! Somebody gave me a shoebox of shells and my beloved friend Francie sent me a passle of brand new nightlights! Put them both together -- rather encourage the Little Old Ladies to put them together and here's what we got:

It was easy, it was beautiful, and it lights their way in the dark, ergo, useful. Have an artful day.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Is It Breakfast Yet?

In response to the most recent pet food debacle, many of us have reconsidered the gastronomic needs of our household companions. After much research (I asked Linda what she's decided to feed Archy and Spenser) Natalie seems most enamored of this Brown Rice-Carrots-Broccoli with Meat du Jour recipe. Does that look like a dog who wants her dinner? She sure never lunged eagerly at kibble -- referred to here, not so fondly, as "Sticks and Rocks." Gut Appetit.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Happy Easter

These lovely Easter postcards are now 100 years old, yet the sentiment then is the same as now: Loving Easter Wishes. This too is my wish for you ~ loving family and kindly friends as well as peace, grace and joy.
Happy Easter

Monday, April 2, 2007

The Very BIG Dog Bed and the little white dog

Actually, the little white dog isn't so little, but between she and Natalie, the somewhat bigger black and brown dog who hates having her picture taken, the little white dog is, by comparison, well, little. Also she reminds me of a three-year-old... what is more adorable than a three-year-old? And there she is, on the great BIG bed, looking adorable, which is what she does best, don't you think?

That charming elevated water bowl, from Homer Laughlin's Fiestaware, is being auctioned too. I could serve a big chicken in there. I hope PBS likes it.

The bed in the post below, the leopard one, was photographed on a countertop -- it measures 12" x 24" -- the one above is 25" by 48" .