Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Welcome to a new follower

Welcome to Julie from Maxine's Knitwear from Auckland.  Thanks for following! Julie says on her blog

"Since 2004, my husband and I have been involved in supporting special needs orphans in China. Many of the children we support became orphans due to poverty, and have been cared for by the New Day Foster Home in a small village outside of Beijing. You can read more about the New Day story on their website at www.newdaycreations.com/foster    Maxies Knitwear was born out of a desire to help these special needs children. For every item sold, 25% of the profit will be donated by us to the New Day Foster Home. So each time you purchase an item from Maxies Knitwear, you are contributing towards the needs of a small child in China. Isn’t that exciting?! "


The New Day Foster Home children's stories are amazing and will touch your heart.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

51 Weeks until Thanksgiving, Seriously?

Thanksgiving was a week ago and I still feel "stuffed".   I realized I've been so busy I forgot to share with you what I did Thanksgiving morning!.   My frirend Robin and her daughter Elsa and I participated in the Turkey Trot in Flemington, a 5K run and 2 mile walk to raise money for the Center for Eeducational Advancement.  I am told there were 4,300 runners.  I don't know what 4,300 people in one place looks like, but there were ALOT of runners and it took A LONG time for all the runners to pass before the walkers could start.   So I tend to believe there were 4,300 runners.   We had alot of fun.  It even started to snow towards the very end of the walk.   There were lots of people dressed up in costumes and some wore funny hats.  I forgot my camera and only took pictures with my cell phone so I did not take alot of pictures.  We had a lot of fun and will do it again next year.    

Robin and Elsa

Turkey Man and Chef
Start of the Race in front of Union Hotel, 4,300 runners

COME JOIN US NEXT YEAR.  IT WILL BE FUN!


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Beauty of the Seasons

To know someone here or there with whom you feel there is understanding in spite of distances or thoughts unexpressed- that can make of this earth a garden.      Johann Wolfgang von Goethe   



Summer
I emptied all of the ceramic pots on the deck of dirt this weekend.  I did not want the dirt to freeze and thaw and cause the pots to crack.  I had put off this chore because I believe I was in denial about the fact that it was late November.  But now it's done and I heard that snow is in the forecast for this weekend!  The deck is so pretty when the flowers are in bloom. 
 
 
Oh, Lots of Snow.  I CAN'T wait!



And now it looks sad now with no pots or plants.  I am grateful for the seasons and know that the deck will be beautiful buried in snow and again renewed and bursting with color when April comes and I can plant flowers ‘till my heart’s content. 

Monday, November 29, 2010

Morning Air

I love stepping out on our deck early in the morning when the dogs go outside.  The fresh morning air smells so good.   I breath in the fresh clean air and look around at all the trees and the wonder that is nature.   Sometimes the birds are singing and sometimes there is silence.  The silence is beautiful.  I stand and look and wait for something to happen.  If I wait long enough (doesn’t always happen) there’s usually some action in the yard or woods.   Either the snap of a branch in the woods and a deer comes into view.  Or maybe it’s the buzz of hummingbird wings (they are long gone now)  The sound of hummingbird wings makes me freeze in my tracks.  I just stand and watch them at the feeder.  They are so amazing.   My husband has all the facts about them stored in his head and recites them.  I should know them by know, but I don't.  In the winter, I like to enjoy the silence of the snow.  We have lots of pine trees and the snow looks so beautiful.  I'm looking forward to that. Yes, maybe a little crazy!  That’s what our back yard is like.  It’s fenced in for our dogs.   I should mention that we border an 800 acre state park so we have more than our share of wildlife.  The wildlife is free to move about in our front yard, and they do.  The deer bed down in the front yard quite often.  We have 3 bucks that are hanging out now.  Two seem to travel together.  I wonder if they were one of the sets of twins we had living here a few years ago.  This past spring/summer, we had a few day old fawn sleeping right outside out front door.  Needless to say, we were house bound until he/she was called by her momma.   There was no way I was disturbing that sweet little thing.    Here he/she is after a nap and before taking off to find momma.


My allergies have been bothering me lately and it seems the best thing is fresh air.  So this morning at 6:15 am (ee gads!) I took the dogs for a walk.  It’s good for all of us.  It has to be done in two trips as these two pups, although they get along great, don’t walk well together.  Together they add up to WAY too much excitement for one person!  I would be going down the road on my face or butt!   That’s not how I want to start my day if I can help it!  The fresh air feels good.  What do you do at 6:15 am?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Fresh Morning Thoughts

“Thoughts are like flowers; those gathered in the morning keep fresh the longest” — Andre Gide.  

I am inspired by the words of others, special words.  What makes the words special?   Many things.  They are heart felt, describe a beautful moment, are about our Lord and Savior, and they are uplifting.  I am thankful for the authors of these special words.  They inspire me to live a better life and to remember my purpose.  And sometimes they even inspire me to paint.   Other times they just make me smile or stop to think about life and what a joy and a gift it is.     

During this November of Thanksgiving please visit Rebecca Writes to read about what other are thankful for.  Today, I am thankful for the authors that share their words that inspire us.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Auction to Benefit Evy and Rocky: Lord's Chapel

I first read about Evy a few weeks ago and was so touched by her story and that of her family that I donated one of my prints to the upcoming auction taking place Nov 22nd and 23rd to raise money to send Evy to a camp.   There are lots of great items on the auction.  You can read more about Evy, her battle with brain cancer, her twin sister and her family, as well as the "monkeys" who have helped, on these sites:
http://evybeatscancer.blogspot.com/
http://momastery.blogspot.com/2010/10/fight-like-girl-guest-post-by-andrea.html
http://momastery.blogspot.com/2010/11/dear-evy.html

Here is the link to the Auction.  http://momasteryauction.blogspot.com/
   

Lord's Chapel by Colleen Carkhuff Conrad
"

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Something to make you Smile

Rebecca Writes November gratitude; I am thankful for the things that make me smile.  It helps keep me sane!   Please enjoy.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Weekend to rest . . . kind of

My hardworking husband took a much deserved and needed hiatus from kitchen remodling this weekend.   Of course, it was not an entire weekend off as there are SO many leaves in the yard.  He had raking and mowing to do.  The kids across the street were jumping in the leaf pile as he was raking.  I think that made part of the chore fun for him.

 The weekend off gave me the opportunity to introduce him to Trader Joe’s.   We found lots of yummy looking and sounding things.  Now we will meander our way thru the things in the freeze to see we were right!   And of course, we had to have a few bottles of that great Charles Shaw wine!   

Hard to believe thanksgiving is just over a week away.   Thru one of my favorite blogs Thistle Cove Farm (thanks Sandra!) I found Rebecca Writes, who asks us to share what we are grateful for.  So for the remainder of the November of Thanksgiving as Rebecca calls it, I will share with you the things I am grateful for.   My hardworking husband of 26 years is right up there at the top of the list!  But he is so much more than hardworking . . .  he is generous, compassionate, caring, loving, thoughtful, patient, very funny, handsome and playful and he has a deep love and respect for me.   We are each other’s best friend.   I am keenly aware everyday of how fortunate I am that God caused our paths to cross 30 plus years ago.  For that I am ever so grateful.


Chuck and Darla . . . he does not spend enough time in that hammock!


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day . . . a little history

Depending on your interest/knowledge of history you may or may not know this, but here goes (courtesy of http://www1.va.gov/opa/vetsday/vetdayhistory.asp)
 
November 11, 1918 is generally regarding as the end of "the war to end all wars", World War I.  Although the war officially ended with the siging of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28,1919, the fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.  In November 1919 President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…"   The original concept for the celebration was for a day observed with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11:00 a.m.    In 1954, "Armistice Day" a day primarily  set aside to honor veterans of World War I, was renamed Veterans day in order to honor veterans of all wars.   The change was brought about by the World War II and the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history and after American forces fought aggression in Korea.

So, today, on Veteran's Day, thank a veteran who has served and/or thank one who is serving now.

Here are a few ways.

Operation Gratitude http://www.opgratitude.com/from_iraq.php
Let's Say Thanks http://www.letssaythanks.com/Home1280.html
You can send cards/letters/packages to anysoldier.com to insure that soldiers without loved ones here in the states also receive encouragement.

And finally, a poem written by a soldier during World War II set to music recently by John Gorka, one of my favorite artists.  Someone has added images.  It's very touching.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

An Irish Blessing on this cool November Day

I love the word "November" and I've been trying to figure out why. I think it's because November is a time of tradition, a time of giving thanks. I have a lot of great memories of Thanksgiving, of family meals and traveling to visit friends.  So, on this cool November day, may I share with you an Irish blessing.  You would expect something less from someone named Colleen?

May the blessing of God's soft rain be on you,
Falling gently on your head, refreshing your soul
With the sweetness of little flowers newly blooming.
May the strength of the winds of Heaven bless you,
Carrying the rain to wash your spirit clean
Sparkling after in the sunlight.
May the blessing of God's earth be on you,
And as you walk the roads,
May you always have a kind word for those you meet.

http://www.etsy.com/listing/29726438/thanksgiving-joys-greetings-embossed

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Cooler days have arrived

Darla and Buddy enjoying a little sunshine
Whoa, I cannot believe last week flew by so fast.  And this week is now well underway.  It seems that's what happens this time of year.  All of a sudden someone hits the gas peddle, and hard!   It either has something to do with my getting older (NAH!) or I like this idea better . . . there is less daylight so the days SEEM to go faster.  Yup, I'm sticking with that one!  

Also around this time of year, the dogs gravitate to the sunny spots in the house.   This photo was taken this weekend.  Can you feel the love?  Buddy is a yellow lab with some hound.  Darla is black lab and wild thing!  They bring us great joy.   Darla loves to be outdoors, no matter what the weather.  She loves her yard and will sit all day and watch for something to come into the yard, or find sticks and chew them up!  Buddy will spend some time outside, but would really rather be inside with his people.  Although different in many ways, they seem to "tolerate" each other.   The two of them in the sun, snuggled up or trying to fit into a space only large enough for one dog will be a common site throughout the fall and winter months.  They are both rescue dogs, Buddy from a rescue league in South Jersey and Darla all the way from North Carolina!   We rescued Darla a month after Buddy, he really needed a companion.  It still amazes us how well they get along.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Make a Pillowcase, Make A Difference

this is a wonderful cause.  We all do so many different things to help people in need.  This is another creative way we can do that.   Quoting straight from the website . . .


Calling all quilters, sewers and crafters! American Patchwork & Quilting is challenging you to join our efforts to Make a Pillowcase, Make a Difference. Every pillowcase can make a difference in your community. A pillowcase can provide comfort for a cancer patient, hope for a foster child, encouragement for a battered woman, or beauty for a nursing home resident.

Here's the webiste http://www.allpeoplequilt.com/millionpillowcases/

I challenge you to make a Pillowcase and make a difference AND share this link with anyone you know that can do the same. 

Grandmom's Quilts, watercolor

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sunday, October 3, 2010

ETSY Holiday Bootcamp Pledge

What is she talking about? Well,  I have an Etsy Shop and Etsy has started the Holiday Boot Camp to get the "newbies" and anyone else interested, ready for the holidays.  And the first thing you are suppose to do is take the Holiday Bootcamp Pledge so . . .

I  pledge to participate in the Etsy Success Holiday Boot Camp to the best of my abilities. I vow to check in every week, do my homework and support my fellow Holiday Boot Campers. I will read the weekly newsletters and blog posts, check in on the weekly forum thread, read the weekly blog post, check off the checklists and salute the mascot. I promise to share what I've learned with those who need it, support my fellow Etsy indiepreneurs and, most of all, have a positive and persistent attitude. I understand that together we can spread the word about our handmade and vintage goods, making this holiday season a more unique and meaningful one to gift givers and give-ees everywhere!

Oh, my Etsy shop is http://www.etsy.com/shop/ConradDesigns

Baking Bread

You may recall in a post a few days ago I mentioned transporting sour dough starter across state lines.  Well, that was not how I described it but that is what I did.  I brought home sour dough starter from Virginia.  And Saturday I baked 3 loaves of bread.   I meant to take pictures of the loaves fresh out of the oven, but we dove into the first loaf so fast that all thoughts of a camera were left in the dark corners of my brain, crowded out by the smell and anticipation of the taste of warm bread.  If I do say so myself (as my Great Grandmother used to say) it was delicious.   Thank you Ann McConnell for the starter and recipe!    I gave one of the remaining 2 loaves to our pastor and his wife, she is from Radford, VA which is pretty much where the starter originated from.   I will, as the recipe says to, pass on a cup to a friend.   And I "fed" the remaining starter so it lives on and I can keep making bread.  Wahoo!

Still need to post a few pictures from vacation.  Will get to that soon.   Have been painting a bowl of tomatoes too.   It's coming along.   I moved on from another painting that was holding me back on painting altogether.  In the meantime I have had another idea about how I could paint the same scene and have more fun with it.  It's time to paint a Christmas Card, or two or three which means I have to start looking through old winter photographs and old Christmas cards for "inspiration".

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Explore. Dream. Discover.

Twenty years from now  you will
   be disappointed by the thing
     you did not do than by the
       ones you did.  

 So throw off the bow lines.  
   Sail away from the safe harbor.
     Catch the trade winds in 
        your sails.  

 Explore.        
   Dream.        
     Discover.

Author unknown

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Home Sweet Home


From Mt. Pisgah, Blue Ridge Parkway
Triple Falls, Dupont State Forest
We are back from vacation in North Carolina.  We were blessed with beautiful weather.   Our week on Lake Lure was just wonderful.  I could have spent every day sitting on the screen porch that overlooked the lake.  But as nice as it was, it's always good to come home.   It would be even better if I could postpone going back to work <wink>.   I have not downloaded all the pictures yet so I can only share a few. 

It was absolutely beautiful in the mountains.  They just roll on forever.   From a painter's perspective, it was interesting to observe the change in color from the green of the trees in front of you to the blue mountains in the distance, almost darker than the color of the sky.  And speaking of green, the kudzu plant/vine is a scary green thing in the south.  Yikes!  I don't think the word invasive quite describes it. Translyvania County (yes, you read the correctly) was a 45 minute drive from where we stayed and the literature stated that the county has 250 waterfalls.  Transylvania County is in the Pisgah National Forest.   We only saw 4 waterfalls and they were lovely.  Surprisingly, all had a quite a bit of water coming over.   We would like to go back and stay nearer to the waterfall area to visit more of the waterfalls.  But there are lots of things we would like to do :)  

Friday night we had dinner, on a recommendation from a couple we met on the trail earlier in the day, at the Mt. Pisgah Inn on the Blue Ridge Parkway, at the Peak of the Parkway as they call it at the Inn.  We were at 5,000 feet with an absolutely amazing view of the mountains and we had a fabulous dinner too.   If I begin to describe it I'll droll all over my keyboard.  It started with pumpkin bisque soup and ended with silk pie and everything in between was so so good.   And then there was the view.  Oh, and the monarch butterflies were migrating thru so we saw one or two every 30 seconds.  

We left Lake Lure Saturday morning and  headed to Abingdon, Virginia for my cousin's wedding Saturday afternoon.  We moved on from Abingdon early evening and drove 4 hours north so we would not have a long drive home on Sunday.   The wedding was on my cousin's uncle's farm and it was a beautiful ceremony and reception (camera battery died).   My counsin's Aunt and family did all the cooking and it was yet another yummy meal!.  Everyone had fun and it was good to see family we don't get to see too often.  I left the wedding with a mason jar filled with starter for sour dough bread.   An entirely new experience for me, but I think I can handle it!  I like to bake!  I'll keep you posted!  I have to email Ann to let her know how it goes.  That's what I'll be doing this weekend!   I figured waiting for bread to rise and knitting fit nicely in around the spaces of waiting for water color paints to dry.   It stops me from rushing on to the next step.  This is all working out quite to my liking.  And yes, I did paint on vacation, just not as much as I had wanted to because I spent too much time doing absolutely nothing on the screen porch, or knitting :).  But I have a lovely bowl of tomatoes "growing".

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Duck, Duck, Pig

Yesterday was the second annual Duck, Duck Pig community event at the Titusville Presbyterian Church and WOW, what a beautiful day it was.  Thanks to all that made it possible.  What is Duck Duck Pig?  It starts Friday evening about 10 pm when our pastor begins cooking about 80 lbs of pork (with help to keep him awake thru the night) to serve up yummy pulled pork sandwiches the next day to all who come to get a rubber duck to race in the canal.   I should mention here that the Delaware and Raritan canal flows behind our church and the Delaware River in front.  It's truly a beautiful setting.  Duck Duck Pig is the Church's fall kick off community event (followed by a breakfast the following morning to start sunday school ). The event is a duck race and a pig roast with lots of food and fun for all.   You pick your favorite duck or if you have a special number you can pick the duck with that number, if you come early enough!  While you wait for the ducks to be "launched" into the canal at a set time from the bridge at Church Road you can enjoy your pulled pork sandwich and lots of delicous church speciality dishes.  The kids play games and can have a pig or a duck "tattoo" painted on their face or anything they can think of.  I saw a few butterflies.  There was also a quoits tournament.   Once the race started, their were over 100 little rubber ducks racing down the canal to win their owners one of the many prizes that were donated by many local businesses.   Thank you to all for the generous donations. 

Fanning the Fire . . . thanks Chris
Chef /Pastor Will Shurley (center) and Sous Chefs Bill Yost (left) Andrew Long (right)
Rubber Ducks waiting to be claimed to go Racing!


And they're off . . launched from bridge in center left of picture
Half way down the Canal
Crowd anxiously waiting for their duck along with the duck rescue kayaks


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Technology is frustrating

Buddy's Lookout
I have to be careful what I say because technology is what allows me to reach out to everyone, and do some of the fun things with my artwork, like the fabric that arrived last week that I could not write about because my computer was not working.  Truth be told, the computer is really the only thing I find to be frustrating.   Could be in part because there are things I don't understand about it's workings and I will leave it as a mystery!  The fabric.  Wow, it is really great.  Colors are excellent, fabric texture is very nice to the touch and my little mind is whirling with all the things I can do.  It will take me a while to get it all figured out and that means it will be a while before anything appears on Etsy.   It has to make it out of my head and thru my fingertips.  But, it will!  It's way too beautiful not to share.  

So my computer is working again.   I'll spare you the details except that when I got everything working again my mouse gave up the ghost.   Timing is everything!   I figured I could survive another day without a computer so I spent some time outside.   Now that it's September, the weather is beautiful, but still no rain. 

I've also been to the Vet twice with Buddy, our 90lb yellow lab mix.   When we return from a short walk he has a bit of a limp in his front left leg and I could not see anything wrong with his foot or leg.   The vet wanted to see if he had elbow dysplasia and while he was at it he wanted to look at his hips.   Turns our my 5 years Buddy has arthritis in both hips and the elbow.   He is on 1 aspirin a day which helps alot and that can be increased but it can also upset his stomach.  I'm looking into magnet therapy as that is supposed to work for dogs as well as humans.   But he can still get up in that chair.  It's such a hoot to see him in the chair.   Like he belongs!  

Friday, August 27, 2010

A Night at the Fair

I guess at this age a walk down memory lane happens almost every day, or at least a few times a week?   Please say yes.  It is not that I am old, just oldER.  I took a walk down memory lane last night in the form of a night at the 4H Fair.  I spent lots of time at the Flemington Fair many years ago, and I just loved it.   And now each year when we go to the 4H Fair (same fair different location) I look around at the kids and wonder if they realize how lucky they are.  They must, right?   I watched an open class sort of show, calves, chickens, sheep and goats, all together with young kids showing the animals.  It is so wonderful to see kids that enjoy working with the animals, are not afraid to get dirty and don't mind the smell of animals.  And that love camping at the fair.   Makes  me feel good about life!   I could walk around, and around, and around, soaking up the "fair vibes".   I went to the fair to meet up with friends.  I had trouble connecting by cell phone with them.  Yes, I know the 4H fair and cell phones do not really go together.   I wandered through the animal barns, watched the ladies spinning wool, petted a few baby goats and headed over to look at the quilts, handwork and rug hooking.  I figured I'd eventually find my friends and I did.  I did take a side trip into the Alpaca tent and exerted great restraint by not purchasing alpaca wool that I really did not need.   However, it occurred to me as I was looking for my friends that I might be wandering around the fair by myself, and that was OK.  I was never in 4H, but my friend Cindy was in 4H and I lived 4H vicariously thru her.   She was the Dairy Princess one year.   Naturally, we don't let her live that down!  I spent almost as much time as the fair each year as she did.   I like the simpler things in life, always have.  I guess that's why I liked the fair and still do.  

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tuesday's Quote


Turn your face towards the sun and the shadows fall behind.
Maori Proverb

Monday, August 23, 2010

Etsy Treasury

I am very excited.   ElementsbyJulie included Valhalla in an Etsy Treasury, Undiscovered Beauties.  Wahoo!  I've only been on Etsy since early this month, so this is very exciting.  No, it's not a sale, but it is a big kudos of approval for me!  No idea when I'll make my first sale.  That's ok.  I'm making contacts and meeting some interesting people.  And more people are noticing my site.  It's all about the traffic.  And creating traffic i've discovered is a challenge!   Thank you to Elements by Julie.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Music of Rain

The sound of rain is like music today.   It's been raining off and on since early morning and it's finally picked up to a real steady down pour.  The weather report is for rain all day, I only hope and pray that it really does rain all day. We need it so very bad. 

Lambertville, just up the river from us, set off a firework show every Friday night over the Deleware River.  I finally got to see them Friday night.  They were fantastic!   We sat on a rock right along the water and watched.  Great fun! 

Saturday Cindy brought me a fresh chicken.  Friend of hers raise chickens and recent started a grass fed beef herd.  I stuck the chicken in the freezer for a Sunday dinner in the fall. I have to get past the idea that I am eating someones pet.   I know it sounds silly.   It's way better than supermarket chicken (we won't mention names) because it totally natural.    I spent a good bit of time with Cindy looking at fabric for ideas for window treatments for their living room.  We looked at paint colors a few weeks ago.   I love color so I get totally lost in looking at fabric and my mind wanders to other ideas.  But we had fun.    Oh and since we were in Joanne's I had to buy some wool.   Not that I needed any, mind you.  But again, it's the color thing.  

That's what I've been doing instead of painting.  I have two paintings 80 percent complete, just staring at me.  I am almost certain of the next step for each but am afraid to take that step because I might ruin what I've done.    I need to find some courage pills, or maybe just a glass of wine will do!   And really, I don't think I'll ruin them, I'll just make more work for myself it thing go amiss.

Thanks for "listening".
 

Friday, August 20, 2010

It's like Christmas

Frosty Trees - Fabric Sample




Well, maybe not quite since it's still so darn hot!  Why is it like Christmas?  I'm waiting for an order!   But not just any order.  There is this really cool website www.spoonflower.com where you can download your artwork and see what it would look like as fabric.  So, I have FINALLY ordered some sample swatches and I'm waiting for it to be delivered.  I'm very excited.  I have lot of ideas of what I can do with the fabric.   Spoonflower can make the fabric in many different layouts. 
Lift Off

Lift Off - Mirror Image Fabric Sample

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

In the Holy Quiet of this Hour

Lord's Chapel, Watercolor by Colleen Conrad
In the midst of the whirling day, in the hectic rush to be doing,
In the frantic pace of life, pause here for a moment.
Catch your breath, relax your body.
Loosen your grip on life.
Consider that our lives are always unfinished business.
Imagine that the picture of our being is never complete.
Allow your life to be a work in progress.
Do not hurry to mold the masterpiece;
Do not rush to finish the picture;
Do not be impatient to complete the drawing.
From beckoning birth to dawning death, we are in process,
And always there is more to be done.
Do not let the incompleteness weigh on your spirit.
Do not despair that imperfection marks your every day.
Do not fear that we are still in the making.
Let us instead be grateful that the world is still to be created.
Let us give thanks that we can be more than we are.
Let us celebrate the power of the incomplete,
For life is always unfinished business.

Richard Gilbert
From the Skinner House Meditation Manual "In the Holy Quiet of this Hour"

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Tooth Fairy

Yesterday the DJs on the radio station I listen to were talking about how inflation has hit the tooth fairy.  It reminded me of my tooth fairy days.   I was not a bad kid. I pretty much stayed out of trouble.  But my parents told me that there was a good tooth fairy and a bad tooth fairy.  My father has no recollection of this and cannot understand why he would have ever done it.  I distinctly remember him calling the tooth fairy on the telephone to tell him/her that I had lost a tooth.  And then telling me he did not know who would come, the good tooth fairy or the bad tooth fairy.  What would you do after that phone call.  Would you put your tooth under YOUR pillow and go to sleep at night, alone, in the dark, wondering who was coming into you room to take something from underneath your pillow.   No way, Jose.  My  tooth went in a cup on top of the TV!  Nice a safe all the way at the other end of the house.   Yeah, I was not the bravest kid.  I met a little girl many years ago, with a pretty name, Leilani, who handle the tooth fairy thing in an entirely different way.  She didn't really believe, at 6 years old, that the tooth fairy existed.   She insisted on proof.  Her mom, being a creative person, sprinkled baking flour in the window sill in her daughter's bedroom and made little footprints in the flour.   The next morning when Leilani awoke she had a gift from the tooth fairy under her pillow and proof that there really was a tooth fair.  I just love that story.  

Thursday, August 12, 2010

When I Paint My Masterpiece

Jerry Garcia has been gone for 15 years. It's been quite a few more years than that since I went to a Dead concert, but somethings leave a lasting memory.  We went to quite a few Grateful Dead concerts.   Lots of fun, lots of stories, lots of great memories in our travels up and down the east coast to see them. One of my favorite songs to hear live was When I Paint My Masterpiece, it gave me chills. I'm still working on my masterpiece, I might be a little closer, but I'll always be working towards it.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Opportunities . . . what do you do with them?

I wonder what becomes of lost opportunities.
Perhaps our guardian angel gathers them up as we drop them,
and will give them back to us in the beautiful sometime
when we have grown wiser, and learned how to use them rightly.

Helen Keller

Sunday, August 8, 2010

My new Website

I'm excited because the bulk of the work is done on my new WEBSITE and I published it for all to see!  I'll add new items and fix typos as necessary. I was stealing way 10 minutes every chance I had to work on it.   I did take a break from that and dishwasher shopping (I think we found a dishwasher, yeah!) to help a friend pick paint colors for her living room.   It was a nice change of pace and we had not seen each other in a while but when we get together it's like we see each other all the time.  It's so easy.  That's the nice thing about being friends with someone for 40 years.  Oh Cindy, has it really been that long.  We are not that old!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Read to me, Please!

I found a great website called LibriVox.  They provide free audio books from the public domain.  There are thousands of books available in mp3 format.  I've listened to a few snipets on my computer.   I don't have an ipod but this is making me think seriously about getting one.   I would love to have someone read Peter Pan to me again!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Courage


Courage doesn't always roar.
Sometimes courage is the little voice
at the end of the day that says,
“I'll try again tomorrow."

Mary Anne Radmacher-Hershey

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Kitchen Remodel

My days as an electrician's helper are over and we have moved on to buying appliances.  First a real dishwasher.  We have lived in this house 11 years with an apartment size dishwasher, which is 18 inches wide instead of the normal 24 inches.  Through all of our research on line, we have come to the conclusion that there is just too much information on the web, at least in terms of rating and opinions.   We walk in the store with a brain full of data, look around and dishwashers, listen to the sales person and walk out with information overload.  We've done that twice and did not buy a dishwasher.   We have not even explored stove, refrigerator, counter top, floor and back splash!   We were sure we wanted stainless appliances, but have discovered it shows fingerprints and dirt more than white or black.   And with 2 dogs that is something to consider.   But, the kitchen would look SO nice with stainless appliances.  So, we go back and forth.   It's not really a roller coaster ride, but we are going round and round!   Soon, we will decide and the ride will stop and I can get off.  I hope?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Chocolat




Oh, I'll let you all in on my secret. I love Johnny Depp. He is "easy on the eyes" and he plays great parts and does it well! This is a clip form Chocolat, from the middle of the movie, about 10 minutes long. There are few Depp movies I do not care for but Chocolat is one of my favorite all around movies. Depp is only one of the fine actors in the movie. You can read a review here http://thecelebritycafe.com/movies/full_review/23.html If you decide to see the movie, make sure you have some chocolat close at hand!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Good Vibrations

I've learned that people will forget what you said,
people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget how you made them feel
Maya Angelou

Monday, July 26, 2010

Happy Birthday Sweetheart!

Courtesy of FoodTV - Alton Brown's Macaroni and Cheese
Today was my sweetheart's birthday.  I won't say how old.  He is a kid at heart and that is really all that matters.  He keeps me smiling and laughing.    He wanted strawberry shortcake for his birthday cake and  I whipped that up this morning.  My Mom and Dad joined us this evening to share in the birthday wishes.   I made a special dinner last night, something terribly gourmet . . . shake 'n bake chicken and baked macaroni.   Yup, we live quite a life here!   He loves shake 'n bake.  And baked macaroni is another favorite.  I've made one way for all of my life.  But I got a bit curious several months ago and found this recipe from Alton Brown of Food TV  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/baked-macaroni-and-cheese-recipe/index.html.  It is not difficult to make (watch the video!) and it's really good.   The secret is the cheese.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Fibre Projects

Watercolor "Pears"

Rug Hooked Wall hanging - 18" x 18"
I have recently learned to knit and I've just finished my second scarf.  Yippy!  I had always wanted to learn to knit.  Thanks to the patience and teaching of several friends I can knit, nothing to fancy though!   I also learned rug hook around the same time.  That requires a bit more of my attention.   Rug hooking was one of those "come take this class with me" moments.   I'm glad I did.  I had a lot of fun and was completely mesmerized by all of the colors in Karen's fabric room.  I just stood and started at all of the fabric and all of the things Karen had made, the wheels spinning in my head.   Karen is a great teacher and a wonderful lady.  The picture of the scarf did not come, it was too dark.  So here is my second rug hooking project.  It is about 18 inches square and  make a nice wall hanging.  It is a bit too big for a chair pad.   It is a pattern I designed, with the help of Karen Worthington from Blue Tulip Woolery, based loosely on one of my paintings, also shown.  I have lots of other ideas . . . the story of my life!   Lest you think I am avoiding painting (or is it me that's thinking that?) I do have 4 paintings started, and I'm trying to go at it a bit slower, but more steady.  Not quite ready to show my progress.  I bit too revealing at this point.   Soon, though.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

My Great Aunt Used to Say . . .

it's hotter than the hinges of hell.  I haven't thought about that in a long time.   And I'm not going to explore where that comes from.  My imagination, and yours, can probably do just fine!   But jeepers!  It's been really hot here in Jersey for way too long.   My  husband has decided that as bad as the winter was, with all the snow he'd rather have that.  And he's doesn't like winter!  And it's not even August yet.   We thought we might retire in a southern state and avoid the cold winters, we are wondering if we should rethink that.   But, we must be thankful for what we have, including a the ability to choose where we live, a house to live in, and on some nights, central air.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Kindneess

Carry out a random act of kindness,
with no expectation of reward,
safe in the knowledge that one day
someone might do the same for you.
Princess Diana of Wales

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Regular Visitors

Twins heading across our driveway towards the house.
One of the twins, watching me in the window.
We live adjacent to a state park and have quite a bit of wildlife in our yard.   Bears are more common in New Jersey than the most people might think.    Thankfully, I've only seen one.  However, it was right outside by kitchen window helping himself to the bird feeder!  Made me a bit hesitant to venture into the park in the mornings with the dogs.   Yup, you can call me chicken!   I think I might fit have some feathers!   Rabbits and squirrels are very common and much less scarry!  Raccoons have become a somewhat regular nightly visitor to the bird feeder and the feeder now has to be brought in at night before we go broke feeding the little dudes.  There is the occasional fox sighting but the sight of a fox during broad daylight is not common and usually not a good sign.  But, the most regular visitor we have are the deer.   Several years ago we fenced in our back yard for the dogs and fenced OUT the deer.    There are very few plants deer do not eat, or at least taste.  There are several books on deer proof landscaping, but we have found many of the "safe" plants to be fair game for the deer in our area.  We had to make small fenced in areas in the front yard for flowers and plants to protect them - or have none which was not an option.  Although it is frustrating to loose plants to the deer, this time of year is so special to watch the fawns play and grow up comfortable that our yard is  home.  It's very special and I would not trade it.  It's the reason the entire yard is not fenced in.  What is  the point of living in the woods and fencing it out all.   I could not get a video of the fawns playing but have a few pictures as they are so comfortable that they come right up to the house.   In May, a week old fawn wandered up to our front door and spent the better part of the day lying in the sun, waiting for its mama.  That's not where she left it.  Something spooked it from a safer spot and it ran and decided inside our fence by the door was a good spot and settled down at our front door.   We were held hostage in the house watching it until it left mid afternoon.  It was very special to watch.  So tiny.  And now we see him/her playing in the yard.   Makes me happy!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Dog Days of Summer

We still need rain.  A brown yard is not attractive.  I begin to worry about the woods that surround us.   And the weathermen say we are headed into a 10 day heat wave.  Thus the reference to the dog days of summer.   But what are the dog days of summer.    Thanks to Wikipedia I learned that The Old Farmers Almanac lists the traditional timing of the dog days as the 40 days beginning July 3 and ending August 11, coinciding with the rising of the Dog Star, Sirius, the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major.   Ancient belief suggests that the Dog Star was somehow responsible for the hot weather.   Who's responsible for the rain?   I think daily prayers for rain are in order.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Rain, Rain, Don't Go Away

Finally, it is a rainy day.  We need rain very bad here in Central Jersey, and many other places.  The grass is brown in many places.  I believe the green areas I see, may be weeds, crab grass, things of that sort.   We are watering the garden, but some municipalities are putting a moretoreum against the unnecessary use of water.   Just this morning my husband was trying to remember when he last mowed the yard.   We decided it was before vacation on June 25th!   This past winter when we had several feet of snow on the ground I thought how wonderful the slow melt of the snow would be for the grass.   And it was.  But now we need a little water, please.   My grandmother used to tell me time flies the older you get.  And she was right.   I will enjoy the summer, water or not, because before I know it, winter will be here again.   There are lots of things I like about winter, but, there are some things I would change, possibly the length of it.  Spring and Fall could be longer then.   Hmm, if we are working on a perfect world, I should probably start with something a bit more pressing?  Oh, I'm just dreaming!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Goodness

Real goodness is always simple.
Simplicity is so attractive and
so profitable that it is strange
that so few people lead truly simple lives.

Leo Tolstoy
from This Day's Smile from thisdaysthought.org

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Summer Sunday

Trying to choose our next car
Car Show, FontHill, Doylestown PA
We went to the Road Angles car show at FontHill in Doylestown today.  It is one of our favorite car shows of the year.  We used to go to lots of car shows.  We now only go to a few now.  We go early, sit along the edge of the parking lot and watch the cars arrive.  It is really the best way to see the cars.  The look best when the are in motion and I don't have to walk around in the heat.  Yeah!

This weekend was also the beginning of summer vegetable meals.   Last night we had the first jersey sweet corn.  And was it every good.  Anyone remember the scene from What About Boy where Bill Murray is eating sweet corn?   Yeah.  that's how good it was!  Today we had steamed yellow beans and yellow squash for lunch. I can remember meals at my grandmothers where vegetables were all we had.  And they were all fresh from the garden.  I think fresh vegetables straight from the garden made me a very picky vegetable eater.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Sketching

I mentioned last month that I wanted to do two paintings.   I am very slow to get started.  There, I've said it.   I'm really not sure why it takes me so long to start.  When I have a painting started, I work at it a little bit at a time.  It's good to step back and assess what you've done.  But it seems to take me quite a while to get started.   It's as if I have some great  mountain to climb and I think about the journey but never get out on the trail and start the journey.   I suppose one of the things that presents an obstacle for me is that I started to makes sketches of what I want to paint a year or so ago if I have a specific idea in mind.   It is not my favorite part of the process.  I could compare it to eating your vegetables first, that is if you dont' like vegetables?  But it is a learning experience and it is needed as it helps to see the value in the painting before I embark on the color.   I keep telling myself the more I sketch the better I'll get.   I'm not sketching very much so I'm not getting much better.    I keep thinking back to my posting about habits.   If I could sketch each day that would be wonderful.   Finding the time is the real challenge.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Today's Quote

Graphic from http://www.coolchaser.com/graphics/


I believe in hands that work
Brains that think and
Hearts that Love 

Elbert Hubbard

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Coaching the Artist Within

It was back to work today. I need some semblance of order to my days so I don’t just rush through them. I had started reading in the mornings on vacation and decided I would try to read just for a little bit each morning to start my day off with a sense of calm and a relaxed feeling. I decided against a painting book as that requires  larger blocks of time to delve into than I can devote on a work morning.  A few months ago I had started to read Coaching the Artist Within, by Eric Maisel, but the book got buried among magazines.  I unearthed it last week while on vacation and started to read it again.  It’s really a wonderful book. He coaches artists, musicians, writers through their different types of road blocks by first learning about their lives, habits, interests and concerns and then begins to ask them tough question, questions that they just can’t ask themselves, maybe because they really don't want the answer?  The stories are very insightful.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

God Bless America

My job as an electrician’s helper continued on Friday and to Saturday morning. The electrician is pretty good at what he does. He had to do far more than originally anticipated. But, the good news is light switches are on the wall and the post is gone and the kitchen looks huge! It’s really great. Now for the next phase. Thankfully my husband is very handy and when he comes up against an obstacle he keeps at it until he figures out how to get the job done. He has had and continues to have many great ideas. We celebrated Saturday night with a barbequed (yup!) steelhead trout dinner at the home of some friends. Thanks for dinner guys. On the way home we managed to see fireworks. We ended the weekend with the 4th of July parade in town which is a big deal and a picnic after. Tomorrow, it’s back to work for my hard working husband and I go back on Tuesday. I did manage to get in some drawing and home to do more tomorrow.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Electrician’s Helper

Today we switched gears and went from a day of fun to a big project, the beginning of a kitchen remodel. It actually started last weekend when my husband removed the breakfast counter in the kitchen. All that remained was a post with three light switches (power) that had to be moved before the post could be removed. As is often the case with a project in an older home, we discovered some things we did not anticipate.  Thankfully, we work well together and being an electrician’s helper, or whatever the job calls for, it not a bad job, a bit frustrating for both of us at times though, but we work through it. But with no electric that meant as no painting and no computer for the better part of the day today AND I could not check my work email.  It turned out to be the beginning of a real vacation. I don’t think I will be able to check it tomorrow as we have to finish this project tomorrow so the power will be off tomorrow too, but hopefully not all day? And with the long weekend beginning tomorrow, at some point it just won’t matter what’s is my email box. The weather was beautiful today, the humidity broke. We took many breaks to contemplate our situation and enjoy the weather. And I continued to read which is something I really don’t get a chance to do when I’m working.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Vacation at Home

I have been off from work for several days and I should not admit this, but I have not painted yet! I thought I would paint first thing each morning. There is a belief that the morning is your most creative time, before thoughts of the day and life really start to kick in. Paint before the coffee gets cold in your cup. Of course the danger there early in the morning is that you mistake your cup for the water! Yuck! I thought I would get up in the morning and paint. However, each morning when I stepped on the deck with the dogs, the cool morning air beckoned me to stay and relax and read. The air felt so wonderful and I knew a hot day was on only hours away. It was difficult to walk back inside. So I quickly made a pot of coffee and found a painting book and planted myself on the deck. And so here we are halfway thru vacation and I have not painted. But I HAVE relaxed and read a lot and I’m happy with that. My husband has been off all week too. We done a lot of things we don’t normally get a chance to do. And today we took an amazing trip to Conowingo Hydro Electric Dam along the Susquehanna River just north of where the river empties into the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. We did not go to see the dam, but to see birds in the area. When the turbines are running, the fish don’t fare too well, and thus the eagles and other birds to fare very well. The area is known to be the best place east of the Mississippi to see bald eagles, but usually in the winter months. We thought we would check it our for a future trip. We saw about 20 bald eagles and 20 great blue herons, along with a few other birds we don’t normally see at home. This is a picture of the river below the dam. Just about every rock had either a GHB or an eagle on it. We will be going back this fall.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Quotes from Great Women in History

I have a journal that I keep for inspiring quotes and I'm always adding.  They are uplifting and inspire soul searching.  And now I get to share them with you! Here are a few I recently found.  I know someone will find these words moving.  

Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.
Gloria Steinem

Don't let anyone rob you of your imagination, your creativity, or your curiosity. It's your place in the world; it's your life. Go on and do all you can with it, and make it the life you want to live.
Mae C. Jemison

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Elements of Design

What are the Elements of Design you ask.  Well, let me tell you!  Wait, if you are an artist, you should know, do you?  They are space, shape, line, value, color, texture and pattern.  And not every painting has to have all of them.  Thank you to Margot Schulzke and A Painter's Guide to Design and Composition.  Actually, the elements of design are something that I am aware of when I paint, either consciously or subconsciously. It was interesting though to read someone's description of what each one is.   My paintings do not have all of the elements of design. Many of my paintings came to life as paint, brush and water hit the paper.  And therefore a few of the elements are missing, but the paintings still work. Paintings that were  planned have more of the elements of design.   I don't always feel like planning.  Sometimes I feel a bit more adventurous and want to just put paint and water on paper, tilt the paper, try a few tricks and see what appears.  Other times I have a pretty specific idea of what I want to paint.  That requires planning and investing a fair amount of time, but like any journey well planned, there are not too many surprises along the way.  I still have a lot to read and learn in A Painter's Guide to Design and Composition and a few lessons to complete.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Developing New Habits

I subscribed to the Painters' Key via email.  Robert Genn is a wonderful artist and writer.  I found this piece from 2009 to be of particular interest to me as I am trying to paint everyday, which is a challenge with a full time job.  I wanted to share this with you.  Thanks Robert!


"I am your constant companion. I am your greatest helper or heaviest burden. I will push you onward or drag you down to failure. I am completely at your command. Half the things you do you might just as well turn over to me and I will be able to do them quickly and correctly. I am easily managed--you must merely be firm with me. Show me exactly how you want something done and after a few lessons I will do it automatically. I am the servant of all great men, and, alas, of all failures as well. Those who are great, I have made great. Those who are failures, I have made failures. I am not a machine, though I work with all the precision of a machine plus the intelligence of a man. You may run me for a profit or run me for ruin--it makes no difference to me. Take me, train me, be firm with me, and I will place the world at your feet. Be easy with me and I will destroy you. Who am I? I am a habit!"

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Daily Thought

I subscribe to a daily email entitled "This Day's Thought". It's a nice way to start the day.  One of the recent daily thoughts was

"There is a right way to settle all problems and most of our troubles are the result of trying to avoid that way." Author unknown

I just wanted to share this thought.   Usually the easiest way is the right way!   Have a good day!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Confidence

The idea behind this blog was I would work thru my watercolor instructional books.  I'm going rather slow at that.   I have a few paintings I want to do.   And I'm trying to get my Etsy site going.  So, I decided let's have a third project!  Why not?  So I took Painting Watercolor Landscapes with Confidence, by Brian Ryder off the shelf.  There are several exercises in the book that may prove valuable.  But I just read tonight.  I will say the best thing I've learned for my mental state is this . . . the biggest difference between amateur and professional painters is confidence, yes that's right. Confidence.  It's all in your attitude!  AND both amerature and professional painters discard as many paintings. WOW, that made me feel better!  I should be able to charge ahead with confidence and know that every painting I throw away will make me a better painter.  Hmm?  That make take a few more conversations with myself.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Look Around, it's a Feast for the Eyes

van Gogh said that art requires constant observation. But my question is what are we observing. I don't have a photographic memory. I can look at something for a long time, but not really remember it. So how do I remember it? I've heard it explained like this. Observation requires a discipline that many move quickly past because it requires patience, and it feels like wasted time. To master observation one must surrender to the process, let go of the feeling of wasted time sitting and stareing and let what is flow in, like a gentle breeze. Once mastered, observation becomes less about observation and more about feeling.

I've been so emersed in preparing my Etsy site that I have not painted in several days.   I've simply been observing.  It's fun.  I love early morning and late evening light.  It's magical.  So look around, there is a feast for your eyes if you take the time.   It's really not time wasted.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Quote for Today

"Every house where love abides
And friendship is a guest
Is surely home, and home sweet home
For there the heart can rest."
Henry Van Dyke

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Lost in Photoshop

Ever been there? It's amazing my neck does not hurt from the hours hunched in front of the computer! It all started with the idea that I needed to create a banner for my Etsy Shop and well, I now have oh, probably 15 banners. I learned several new things in Photoshop (yeah!) and had lots of fun in the process. I found a few interesting sites looking for that perfect picture that I did not find. However, it is amazing how things work out. This morning, while sitting on the deck enjoying the early morning cool air, I noticed the sunlight on the barn that sits along the edge of the woods (yup, hence the name of my studio.) I jumped up, ran inside, grabbed the camera and took some pictures of the barn. I thought I had found the perfect image for my banner. I then wandered around the yard taking a few more photos of the dogs playing. And then, there it was. Darla, our black lab, was sitting survying her yard with a row of trees lined up behind her and and there was a perfect spot of sunlight off in the distance. Snap! That's it! Inside for some coffee and a little more photoshop! I have an Etsy banner. Down to business and get the rest of the details figured out (and there are alot of them) and get prints and cards posted for sale. My goal is the end of June.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Good Day, Sunshine


It's Friday and I am at home working on lots of different things. It's nice to have a day off from work! The sun it shining and it's not humid. What a day! The dogs had walks and now they are happy and snoring!. I would like to paint but I am a bit distracted by a few other projects I am trying to finish this month. I am almost set to list things on Etsy. It requires a lot more planning than one would expect. And while I am doing that I am also revamping my website. So I'll just tell you about what I want to paint soon. I like to work on 2 paintings at the same time. I can go back and forth between them and always keep a fresh perspective on them. The first will be of a mini castle with a field of lavender in the foreground. The inspiration came from a photo a friend sent. In keeping with my need to stray from what's in front of me, the painting will be of my own special place inspired by this photo. The other painting will be quite different. I found the "inspiration" a week ago in a cooking magazine . . . it is a strawberry cake, with white icing, with a piece cut from it, decorated with deliciously gorgeous strawberries. All beautifully displayed atop an old white tin cake stand. I just have to paint it and it will require a fair amount of restraint on my part because I will not be able to change too much. Along with the picture of course is a recipe. I think my reward for painting the cake will be making it and sharing it! Hmm, maybe I should reconsider my overall inspiration and incentive for painting! I may be be on to something here!