Friday, October 21, 2011

It's Ingrained In Me

 My (art) passion this week has been paint, textures, and faux encaustic. This, of course, means layers and drying in between layers. I manage to keep busy during the "drying stages". Aside from housework, I putz with other art projects. Like, for instance, these little numbers.
 When I was growing up during the '50's and '60's, we really didn't have much. Money. For things. Growing up like that I learned about hand-me-downs, about rummage sales and second hand stores, about sewing and "making-over" clothes. I learned how to work hard to earn money for things I wanted. And to look for bargains to make my hard-earned babysitting money go further. So what does all this have to do with my accordion files?
  I was "mousing" at a craft store this week---therapy shopping as I call it---and I found these in the clearance section....for next to nothing. It's ingrained in me to mouse through clearance racks.  I knew I could use these for my ephemera and my schnibbles and my "junky little pieces" that will one day find themselves in a collage. I knew that with a little bit of imagination and Mod Podge and junky little pieces and letters, I'd make them into something for my blissroom. So in between layers of paint and gel medium, I made these. They're pretty simple. But they're mine. From the clearance section.  Happy.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Shame On Me

  When I decided to make a blog, like so many other bloggers, I told myself that I'd post on a regular basis, not letting lots of time pass without adding new posts. Unbelieveably, 2 1/2 months  have passsed since I've added anything to this.  So what's my excuse? So what have I been doing?
  In addition to working at our office, taking care of our house, yard, and my vegetable garden, spending time with a friend's mom, escaping "up north" a few times, and learning my new smart phone, of course I've been making art.
 I've finally learned to solder. Admittedly, I've not quite mastered it to the point where I'm very comfortable with it, but I've done a few nice pieces. I've been introduced to Zentangle which is very relaxing for me. For a while this summer making little books filled my time. I've played with a little bit of decoupage and just played with projects from magazines. Of course I've done a few journal pages, sewn aprons, submitted one project for publication, and made a monthly project for an art exchange I'm doing. Oh. I did a wallhanging for my bliss room and made greeting cards for our church....and I'm trying to keep up with an on-line art class.
 In retrospect, I guess in the future I should put down the paintbrush or soldering iron or put the sewing machine away, let the house or office work go for a bit, and post to my blog. Well, maybe at least let the office and house work go.

Friday, August 5, 2011

It's the Little Things

My flower beds have been overtaken by weeds. The incredible heat and humidity, not to mention the mosquitos and biting flies have made it a monumental task, right now, to do much about it. So, after making art this morning for a while, I decided to weed before I freeze more beans. The martins were flying overhead with their brood (Yes! they've flown the nest!!!), the bird feeders were being emptied by finches, and my hydrangea plant was blossomed out so beautifully. It's all these little things  that add up and help a person through it all. At least for me it is.

Saturday, July 30, 2011


     I had to work this morning. My end of the month bookkeeping doesn't do itself. Just before I was going to head into town, just by chance, I looked through the local newspaper (Friday's edition) and checked out the classifieds. Mind you, we don't even get the newspaper. Jeffrey had picked it up for his dad. I found an ad for an interesting estate sale. It had started the day before and was running through today. I thought maybe I'd check it out.
   Like (most of) the rest of the country, I prioritize my spending. You know, sort of like a food chain with food, clothing, and shelter being on top, then fuel, then....well non-necessities. But I thought a little therapy before the office would be good. I didn't expect to find much anyway.  I was so wrong.
   It was the estate of a lady who died ONE DAY before turning 100. She had been a crafter/seamstress/ crocheter and had actually grown up in this house. Admittedly, I was disappointed to find out that the day before many, many old buttons had been sold, but there remained boxes of tatting thread and old wooden spools and tatted and crocheted edgings. I found stacks and stacks of linens and handkerchiefs with crocheted edgings. There were even old doll clothes. So I had to use my noodle and think about what would I make use of. How many of those old childrens' books should I take? Should I take linen table cloths, or table runners? About 1/2 hr. later I left happy.
   I don't really go to many estate sales but when I do, I feel a little sad and guilty. I always think that I'm handling things that were once someone's treasures. You have to wonder why you were led there and are seeing these things. Think about it. What are the odds that I'd go to the estate sale of a woman who once did what I love to do? It's the second day of the sale and there are still tons of items left that I can only dream about finding! So, now I have wonderful stuff for projects. And somewhere in that GIANT craft store in heaven there is a 99-year, 364-day old lady smiling to herself and thinking "I knew there was a reason for saving all that stuff".

Thursday, July 28, 2011


     I (finally) saw the last Harry Potter movie. No, I didn't dress like a wizard, go with a bunch of friends, and buy a large soda and popcorn WITH butter. I went alone, held my purse on my lap, crossed my arms over it, held on to my tissue, and SUCKED it all in. I loved it. For you non-Harry Potter, muggle-to-the-bone people who wonder why a 59 year old woman would do this, I'll explain.
   First of all, it's the J.K.Rowling story itself. I'm not easily impressed by people, but this author, truly, impressed me. During the midst of a huge struggle in her life, she creates this entire series of books. Now, not to get out the violins or anything, but I, like a lot of baby boomers out there, know what it is to struggle for something that you really, really want. I worked my way through college AFTER spending a year getting certified as a lab technician so that I could earn more than the minimum to pay for it all. At the end of it I had a degree and a good job, but I didn't CREATE something as wonderful as she did for practically the entire world to enjoy!!! I think she IS a wizard!!
   Next, there's the story itself. The good vs. evil. The love for and of friends and family. The tiny stories within the big story. The lessons. Harry Potter knew what to do with that Elder Wand. I asked myself, honest to God, how many politicians, world-wide, would know what to do with that wand?  And Professor Snape. Almost my favorite. I had my suspicions about 3 or 4 books ago about him. Who could do what he did? And what about all those wonderful magical apparatuses! A Time-Turner!! How about the Mirror of Erised. Get it non- followers?? E-R-I-S-E-D.......D-E-S-I-R-E.  Mirror???  Yes, Rowling is a wizard. Then to top it all off, in the movies we had the absolute eye candy of all the costumes and scenery and special effects. How the heck can those grey steeples of Hogwarts with a grey background be so beautiful!?
   Of course the biggest reason ( and the need for the tissue while watching this last movie) is the fact that it's all over. Not just the books and the movies, but the entire decade. Done. My youngest sister and her kids introduced me to  Harry Potter. You see, without children of my own, I really miss out on a lot. If not for them, I'd never know what a muggle is for Pete's sake! Or a Whomping Willow. I remember laying on Callie's bed (goddaughter) reading Harry Potter. I remember reading HP in the Twin Cities airport. I remember buying a book at a grocery store in Carson City, NV and another in North Dakota somewhere. I remember sewing wizard robes and trick-or-treating in Carson with the kids. For me it's been magically wonderful.
   So now it's over. I have all the books, a Harry Potter lightning bolt rubber stamp, a Hogwarts necklace, and a millllllllion wonderful memories!! (wish I had a Time-turner) ! Thank you J.K. Rowling. The End.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


     Early evening on Friday, Jeffrey walked down to the mailbox to check mail, something I'd avoided, as I didn't care to look through bills and junk mail. He walked into the kitchen and handed me a piece of mail and said "For my "published girl". "Told you so, told you that jacket was a keeper". It was my complimentary issue of Altered Couture. I'd been published for the second time within a year. They liked the jacket that I'd altered and submitted back in December. I was thrilled.
    Exactly 2 years ago this very month, I'd reached a point where I knew I wanted to do more with my art. For years I'd dabbled in lots of different crafts. By summer, 2009, I'd made hundreds of greeting cards for church and had made a few scrapbooks. I liked paper crafting and decided I would take it to the next level. Maybe mix it up a bit and play with  mixed media art. In various art books and magazines, artists were referring to their experience as a "journey", as "taking flight". Well, if it was going to be a journey, I had no road map, just a desire to try new things and a lot of encouragement from family and friends.
    Well, now it is 2 years later. I've been published twice, doing a second art exchange, taking 2 on-line art classes, doing soldering and encaustic, got a Facebook account and made this blog! Go figure! The artists were right, though. They were right. It is a journey of sorts, though at this point I STILL don't have a map.  I still make cards for church, still love my sewing machine, have a WIP scrapbook. My only real goal is to some day have the time and money  to attend an art retreat....oh, and to learn to solder better. For  now I'm just doing what makes me happy. I encourage others to do the same. You just never know where it will take you.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


    Sometime, back in the 1970's, my mom bought a clematis plant which she planted on the south side of the house in a sunny spot. Weeding the flower bed, watering it everyday with soapy dish water, and occasionally cutting it back a bit was the extent to which it was cared for. It flourished and my mom always took great pride in it.
   In the late 1990's, shortly after my parents both passed away, my brother decided to raze the house and rebuild on the property. What was to become of the clematis? It grew right up against the house. So, I GUESS before the excavators with their heavy equipment arrived and demolished the house and everything in their way, Jeffrey and I went and dug out mom's clematis.
   Recently my youngest sister, Letty, and I were comparing clematis photos. She brought it to my attention that my clematis is actually mom's clematis! I totally forgot about moving mom's plant! I suppose it was the craziness of the time--dealing with a lot of "stuff".
   I found a photo of mom's clematis which she had taken probably sometime in the 1980's. It's a little faded. At first I thought that this couldn't be same plant, but Letty assured me that I had told her about rescuing it. The recent photo of my plant is actually 2 different species of clematis. The darker one is mom's and the lighter buds are from a plant I bought about 3 years ago.
   Needless to say, I'll be handling these two plants with TLC. I'll maybe even use a little bit of soapy dishwater on them.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Finally, Purple Martins

After 15 years of trying to attract Purple Martins to nest in what was once his Grandpa Check's martin house, Jeffrey has finally succeeded! Over the years he's cleaned and repainted the house, put it up, taken it down, shushed away sparrows, cut trees for a better glide path. This spring he even bought the decoy which perches on the top of it. For whatever reason, on Sunday there were 2 pair of martins checking it out, and now they are building nests in it! Yippee!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Running a Little Late

Yesterday, the first day of summer, seemed more like a spring day here in Newton. It was cool, rainy, and foggy. Around 1:00 in the afternoon this guy came strolling up the driveway. He was crossing the road from the neighbor's pond, presumably heading for our pond. About 2 weeks ago a smaller turtle had made the same yearly, spring  trip (with the help of a neighbor and myself in order to avoid the "traffic" on our road). After this photo-op he strolled off heading toward the pond. About an hour later I spotted him heading up the road and another neighbor was helping him out of traffic. Not only was he a little bit late for the "spring" crossing, he couldn't find the pond. She shushed him into the ditch, and hopefully he's in our pond, now, with his  friend. Better late than never.

Saturday, June 11, 2011


I like to think that I'm the type of person who has enough interests to stay busy, no matter what the circumstances. Even though winters get long around here, Jeffrey and I snowmobile, I do lots of art and crafting, I volunteer for different things at church,  and I still work in our office. In spite of all that, winter seemed never-ending. Then, to top it off, we've had a cold, wet spring. Well, FINALLY, the nice weather is here. I have my vegetable garden all planted, the tulips and daffodils have long bloomed and are drying out, and peonies, bridal wreath, and irises are opening. It's been a long time coming. Admittedly, our 3 1/2 acres is a lot of work, but I love all of it.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Long Days

I love that the days are getting longer. And I love all the activity that's going on in our yard. This is one of the 3 pair of geese with babies that are visiting the pond these days. I think there are 8 in this photo.  Another pair has 5. There is a 3rd pair, but they are still a little timid, so I don't know how many babies they have.

I did a stupid thing last spring. I planted about 7 wild raspberry bushes on the south edge of  my vegetable garden. Well, duh, they totally overtook that end of the garden. I spent 3 hours today digging out MANY tiny raspberry plants. I had to get rid of the original 7, too.

And another event of the day was the return of the turtle. Last spring I posted on my Facebook page pictures of the turtle that comes from our neighbor's pond, crosses the road, and finds her way to our pond for the summer. I was just thinking about her when I was digging out the raspberry bushes from hell. Well, late this aft while in my kitchen baking a cake for my father-in-law, I saw a jeep come to a screeching halt in front of the house. So I walked out to the road to find a neighbor from about 2 miles south on Union Rd. frantically trying to direct a snapping turtle out of traffic! (These days traffic is lots of HUGE tractors pulling planters and othr equipment.) My turtle was back!  I got a shovel from the garage and we scooped her up. Just as we were carrying her to the side of the road, the 4 PM school bus came along, stopped, and the little kids on the bus were totally jazzed about our "rescue"!

Such are the long spring days here in Newton. They're pretty simple, but I love them.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Nature or Nuture?

Jeffrey and I gave this book to my mom for Christmas, 1980. She loved to feed and watch the wild birds. My dad raised and raced  homing pigeons. So I wonder, is my love for bird watching due to nature or nuture? Yesterday around my feeders, I had yellow finches, orange orioles, and red cardinals. Throw in spritzes of brown sparrows, and red wing blackbirds, and it was something akin to an artist's palette. After 5 months of winter, it was eye candy, really.
So, last night I sat down with one of my art journals and colored pens and started listing all the birds I've seen in, around, or flying over our yard. The result was 40 different birds. I started with the littlest one, the hummingbird, and worked my way up to the 4 ft. sandhill crane. So glad spring is finally here.

Saturday, April 30, 2011


I suppose this makes it official. My studio REALLY IS my blissroom. My long-time friend, encourager, enlightener, and fellow artist, Linda, was home for a 10-day visit. She surprised me with this very wonderful banner for my newly cleaned and rearranged blissroom. It is SO Linda, filled with the most wonderful embellishments of all kinds, ephemera, flowers, and uses pretty, pretty pastels which I love. So now when I'm going through one of those non-creative, barren dryspells, I know where I'll look for a little creative inspiration. Bliss.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Is it settled then?

Just how long will we be capable of maintaining our 3 1/2 acres here in Newton? Fifteen years ago it seemed effortless to mow, trim, plant, weed. But the task seems to be getting bigger as the years pass. It's not like we have a "Ponderosa" sized place, but the trees, shrubs, pond, orchard, vegetable garden, perenniel beds make for a lot of work. We love it all, but it's a lot of work. Last week we got this little tree, for free, at Lowe's. It 's the exact same size that Daddy's was when he gave it to me 14 years ago. So if he makes it OK and we let him get to the size of my dad's tree planted out in the front berm, we could plan on another 14 years here, God permitting! Is it settled then? We'll see!

Thursday, April 21, 2011


This morning I was sitting in the livingroom having my coffee. It's my AM ritual, something I could never do when I worked in laboratory medicine because I had to be off and running early. All of a sudden there was the NOISE of the yappiest little bird that shows up every spring. A wren! Honestly, besides the hummingbird, the wren is the smallest bird around here, but she has the LOUDEST song. So, she gave me a little inspiration for this (WIP) journal page. That is  not a wren, by the way, but that's OK because then I guess I'd have to call it YAPPY BIRDSONG.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

One Last Snow Storm

One week ago today I was out in my yard in 70 degree weather. It felt so good to be raking, cleaning up my perennial beds, and just enjoying the fresh air and all the bird noises. Today we're looking at a 5 - 6 inch snowfall! We've gotten snow in May already, so this shouldn't be a surprise. Hopefully, this is the last of the snow---until November.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Spring Cleaning

I inherited my Grandma Miller's pack rat gene. That, coupled with the fact that as kids, my siblings and I really didn't have much, results in the fact that I have a very hard time getting rid of "stuff". I do the "what if ?" thing. Plus, I see a potential project in anything from a 5 inch piece of lace trim to a 5 foot long left-over vertical blind panel.
Four days ago my studio looked like this. It was getting hard to even walk through it. My stash had grown to a point where it was unproductively sucking all the creativity out of me. I just started sorting and cleaning and junking. I moved from my studio out into the hall which I annexed onto my studio then into the second bathroom from which I "borrowed" a few drawers for art supplies.
Tomorrow, probably, I'll be loading my Blazer with "stuff" and making at least one trip to Goodwill. There are a few things I have to fine-tune yet, but I am so ready to make art in my very tidy studio.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

It's a Struggle

The past week has been a struggle in more ways than I care to share on my blog. Suffice it to say that if I wasn't a believer in the fact that our struggles make us stronger, I'd probably "throw in the towel" as my mom used to say.

One of the more pleasant struggles of the week (if there is such a thing as a pleasant struggle) is the second lesson in "Journal 365", Pam Carriker's class. Faces. Drawing is daunting. Drawing faces is DAUNTING. I never did a face this way. Practice, practice, practice. She just makes it look so easy.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Lesson One Project One

I've (at least for now) completed a first page in Lesson One of Journal 365. I can see, though, that I'll go back and add and touch up just as Pam says she does on her pages. At least this is a start for me. Practice makes perfect and I'm willing to do all the practicing necessary.

Friday, April 1, 2011


     I (VERY MUCH) don't like April Fools Day. It's not that I don't have a sense of humor. I just never saw the humor in tricking or fooling someone and then laughing at them. I'm a very gullible person and, it seems, I've always been the foolee not the fooler.
     This year Mother Nature is playing a trick on us. There are 4 ft. snowpiles in the yard, my tulips are struggling with the 10 inch snowfall from last week, and the poor robins are frantically picking for food in the little patches of grass that show through.
     I vividly remember our first April First here in Newton, 14 years ago. I left for the office a little behind schedule faced with a load of end-of-the-month bookwork waiting for me. About 1/2 mile up the road I realized I'd forgotten my glasses. So I returned home to get them and remember thinking "I hope this isn't a sign that it's going to be one of THOSE days." It was.
     About 2 hours into the pile of my e-o-t-m work, Daddy called. Mom, who by that time had been chronically ill for about 7 years was having a bad, bad day. He was rounding up my sisters, me, and Mom's hospice nurse. I spent the day sitting vigil with Mom. It turned out to be her last day with us. She passed away at 1:08 AM on April 2nd. We stayed with Daddy and made plans for the next day and left just at dawn.
     A little while later I was sitting at the diningroom table with my coffee, paperwork, and watching the sunrise. I was exhausted, sad, and wired. For some odd reason, I was so relived that Mom made it to April 2nd.  She didn't pass away on April First. It was as if she spared us some huge, sad joke.
     So, here it is another April First. I guess the 4 ft. snowpiles aren't all that unbearable afterall.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

One More Project

I spent this last of March playing in my studio in between loads of laundry, a little bit of housework, and a 1/2 hour walk. I finished up one last wallpaper project, a little pocket journal, which I made from left-over fabric,  stickers & other embellishments, and wallpaper. I'm all ready to jump into another on-line class with Pam Carriker, Journall 365, so I'll neatly stack my wallpaper books and get out the paints, graphite pencil, and learn lots of new things. Hopefully.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Journaling Journey

I think it's safe to say that I can check off another item on my New Year's Resolution list. I've gotten into the Art Journaling thing. Totally. It took me a while, but I'm there.

I tend to be a bit over-analytical. I have a BS in Medical Technology and am 12 credits short of having an undergrad degree in Psychology, so go figure. I need to UNDERSTAND things before I can learn the processs and really get into doing something. So, I bought L.K.Ludwig's book "True Vision Authentic Art Journaling, bought an issue of Stampington's Journaling magazine, am taking Strathmore's on-line class, and got up enough nerve to sign up for Pam Carriker's Journaling 365. My first journal from last year was more of a portfolio. Now my journals are my art and my thoughts. I love journaling like this. It heals.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Daddy's Tree

My dad gave me this tree 14 years ago, the year before he passed away. He called and said he was coming over with a "free" tree which he had gotten. Well, it was this pathetic little twig,  stuffed into a plastic bag. So, I planted it in a berm out front, nursed it year after year, and now it's a beauty.
If you look closely, you can see icicles hanging from the tips of the branches, thanks to the last (hopefully) snow storm of the season. I'm not complaining, though. Afterall, this IS Wisconsin, it's early spring, and as we're told in Ecclesiastes, "To everything there is a season".

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The First Day of Spring

Spring arrived today, but looking outside you'd never guess  it. We got snow, a mix of snow and rain, then  finally just rain. Today was a good day just to stay inside and make art. I finished this wallhanging which I started a few days ago. It's another wallpaper and fabric scraps project. Pretty soon I'll be busy out in the yard so I'm getting as much studio time as I can right now.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Spring Thaw

Turning the clocks ahead makes for a little bit of longer of an evening. The light was still good after supper, so we took a walk down to Point Creek. It's been open for a while. With temperatures reaching near 50 this week, it will be handling a lot more water than this. For sure the spring thaw is here.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

It's Not Just For Walls

I came up with a plan for my art work. I think. I'm all over the map with the types of things I create. That's good because I don't get bored with any one method plus I'm learning new techniques all the time. It can be bad, though, because I'm not really perfecting any one thing. So, I've decided to incorporate wallpaper into my sewn mixed media pieces. I'll de-stash my blissroom, plus maybe I can start honing in on one type of project--sewn pieces using wallpaper. Plus, I'll throw in, here and there, a few different twists. Like, well, whatever. Just not soldering (which I suck at). I made this journal cover for an on-line art journal class using fabric, ribbon, and wallpaper.

Friday, March 11, 2011


Somehow, I've managed to do a bit of fixing, tweaking, and color-changing to this blog. Taking baby steps works for me. I've seen some very wonderful blog sites out there. Eventually I'll arrive at something between simple and wonderful. Maybe posting a photo of what it looks like around here may be a start. This picture is already 3 months old, but I think it tells the story of what winter can be like around here. Admittedly, winter gets long in Wisconsin. It just depends upon the individual, I guess.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


I remember my mom saying "The older you get, the faster time goes". How right she was. One of my New Years's resolutions was to create a blog. It's a little over 2 months now that I decided to do that. Those 2 months have flown, but I'm finally doing it.

I am so, so Cyber-challenged. Technology-challenged as well. That translates into "This is going to be a very basic, plain, run-of-the-mill blog until I play with it enough to jazz it up and make it "pretty". So be it. My intention here is to share my art, my flower bed photos, pictures of the birds and other animals that visit our 3-acre yard here in Newton, and to share a few thoughts. And, so, I'm off and running.