Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Fall Frenzy

You know the whole season change thing? The cooler temperatures that inspire people to start cleaning, switching wardrobes, gathering, nesting and preparing for hibernation? Well, I realize that I have that urge too, only instead of being inspired to do all those useful things, I get an insatiable desire to do pretty projects.

I'm not complaining. I like pretty projects. But, other people in my household, ahem... husband, might prefer that I stop dragging random bits of stuff through the house like a manic crow drawn to hobby supplies rather than shiny things, and start doing more normal fall inspired projects. Like, why can't I bake cookies like a normal person when the weather gets a chill to it? Mmmm... cookies. (Hey, my daughter got an ez bake oven for her birthday this year. I'll get her on that right away.) Well, he should have known better when I moved my stuff here in the beginning. The endless haul of arts/crafts supplies, books and a few articles of clothes should have clued him into how our life together was going to evolve. He was warned.

So... my fall frenzy. I've been thinking about the handmade gift movement and love the idea. I don't know if I can qualify for the pledge this year because realistically, I won't buy or make all handmade gifts, but I will do many that way. So I've been gathering ideas for crafts that have caught my eye, trying an idea or two and stumbled on something I love.

I've always loved those little scrabble tile pendants that are everywhere. So I googled how to make them and found this awesome gel product called DG3 (I bought mine on ebay). So I've been playing with this awesome stuff and I can honestly say I haven't had this much fun with a product since I discovered mod podge. And that is saying a lot!

Here's the first pendant I finished with the DG3. It actually started out with an image on it, but silly me didn't realize you had to seal the image first when using an inkjet. Well, that isn't entirely true. I did know, but I was too impatient to wait. But I do like the marbled effect it caused, so win/win with the instant gratification thing. The top picture with the fairies on it is a photo I sealed correctly, btw.

This is such a versatile project because you can pretty much use any type of background and any graphic you'd like, for huge range of potential products and looks. Family photos, vintage graphics, scanned images, etc. I had a bunch of vintage graphics already cropped in circles and such that I bought on a whim from an Etsy seller, piddix. She has awesome graphics. There are also plenty of images that can be found on the internet. Flickr has several free vintage graphics pools, and there are lots of blogs out there too like The Vintage Moth that offer free graphics.

This is the 'bead' I used to mount the (should have been sealed) photo on with glue, then covered with the DG3. I picked up a package of these beads on clearance a long time ago with no clear idea of what I would do with it, and now I am so happy I did. They seem to be made for this type of pendant and already have pre-drilled holes I plan to open up with a pin after the DG3 is totally dry. I think I'll either bead these into a necklace or add a few beads hanging from the bottom and top and string them as an ornament. They'd make amazing gift tags or wine glass ornaments too. Sigh... I love this stuff.

Oh, and I'm still doing the little paintings. And knitting... But the knitting is, well let's just say it is not really blog worthy. To say I have no talent for knitting is putting it kindly. But I try. Goodness knows, I try.

Now I think I have to go bake some cookies. Because, I said the word 'cookies' and now that is all I can think of. My husband will be so happy! I wish it worked the same way for washing winter blankets and coats. See? I said that, but absolutely no nagging desire overcame me to perform that duty. Nope. Cookies. Heck, yeah - I already started the oven. Blankets/coats... Crickets... Hey, I'll take what I can get, and distract my husband with cookies.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Painting with my daughter...

My daughter and I painted together this afternoon as planned. It was too windy to set up outside. After a walk in the park where we almost got blown away, we sat in our warm living room with tea and paints. Then both proceeded to get very frustrated with our efforts! It is kind of funny in hindsight. We tried! Since I am doing this as a form of exercise for my fingers, I didn't mind as much, but my little girl takes herself very seriously and got really frustrated. I really loved a picture she did of a boat at night under stars, and will try to persuade her to let me post it on here. But tonight I didn't have her permission.

Here's my little painting for the day. I don't love it and I could pick it apart, but I am trying not to do that and to just look at this as fun and simple in order to keep this little artistic momentum going. I actually enjoyed going through the experience of a 'failed' art attempt with my daughter. It isn't often we both hit a frustrated, self-doubting patch at the same time.

We are both typically rather unflappable about art, with the desire to create overpowering the fear of failure. Usually we just shrug our shoulders over this sort of thing, but we were a bit tired and had high hopes for the group effort. I've been painting so much lately which always gets the kids really excited. Have you noticed how kids get mesmerized when adults become absorbed in something with childlike intensity? So our grumpiness at the uncooperative paint was interesting to say the least. But we helped each other find parts of our pictures to enjoy and we had fun in the end. She's a good little art partner.

I might keep doing this little painting project but I don't know if I will keep making posts about each card. I might try to find a widget that I can post a photo of the day on the sidebar and put them there. I've seen something like that on other blogs, so I will snoop around and see what I can come up with. Anyone know where to find such an animal?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Small painting project #2

I enjoy the creative energy my daughter and I bounce off each other during the day. Today she had the wool roving spread around the house, needle felting imaginary creatures. The colors were gorgeous splashes of happiness around the room, which had me itching to paint and play with colored pencils. Which led to both kids watching me and asking me a ton of questions and the scheduling a painting 'date' together tomorrow afternoon. If the weather cooperates maybe outside.

These little paintings are so small it hardly feels intimidating, only fun. It is easy to ignore the imperfections when the painting is the size of a playing card.

More painting...

What can I say? I was born Catholic, and while I am no longer Catholic, I still dig religious iconography. It evokes feelings of comfort and mystery to me.

I am setting small goals. I have so many arts/crafts that I enjoy, I have often spent more time finding what I want to do and setting up, than I spend completing projects. The kids are (finally) at an age where they go to bed reasonably well, giving me evening hours each night to use however I wish. (Cue music, Ode To Joy would be apt for this post.) Of course this weird, glorious freedom is accompanied by crazy biological clock cries for another baby... Sheesh. But that is another type of crazy entirely. (And perhaps my recent draw toward Madonna paintings lately. Hmmm...)

A few months ago I rediscovered audiobooks. Perfect for dark fall/winter evenings, listening to good books and keeping my hands busy. Small goals. Small knitting projects. Now, small paintings. I thought a series of ATC sized mixed media paintings seemed fun, not intimidating. So last night I sat down and decided I want to paint religious iconography, fairy tales and trees. And then without letting myself think, I just started. It was fun.

My goal is to keep up with the little paintings, learning as I go. I'll also do the same with knitting. Maybe I'll take a couple short classes this winter. Hopefully by next winter, my goals will grow along with my skill :)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Playing around with acrylic ink...

It has been a long time since I've used watercolors and ink. Maybe it is seasonal color that has me playing with pigments, colors and craft supplies. I was at Hobby Lobby last week with my mother and stumbled on white acrylic ink. I have ink in colors and metallics, but I've never played around with white ink. And ooooohh, I like it.

As you can see I don't come up with much other than a grownup version of toddler scribbles. But those scribbles are sure fun to make! Actually, I am toying around with making tiny paintings. Well, that is how they look in my head. Tiny riots of color and mediums. Hmmm...

I'm the weird person you see at the store with paint under her fingernails, by the way. Don't fear me and my frizzy hair. I may be odd and mumble to myself. But I am nice.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Dear Wednesday,

Please stop acting like Monday. It would be much appreciated.

Waking to the howls of your young son who somehow pinched his most sensitive parts in a game clamshell case, is just not the kind of experience you can describe adequately. Thank goodness the outcome wasn't as bad as I was imagining. But it did tend to add a dimension to the day that I hadn't anticipated.

I seem to have lost my parenting manual... but I am pretty sure that something like this is not in it.

Dear Thursday,

Would it hurt to act like Friday since everything is all akimbo this week anyway? Thanks in advance!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What was old is new again...

I was cleaning out a storage area this afternoon and found a dusty old Darth Vader carrying case. Inside were several of my husband's old Star Wars action figures. After a quick vacuum and wash, playtime ensued!

Generations of fun. :) I don't know which 'kid' was more excited.

My son is such a lucky kid having a much older brother and a father who comes from a boy heavy family. My husband is one of four brothers (and a lone sister, poor girl). Every so often we stumble upon a box squirrelled away somewhere that contains treasures of the small boy variety. Early this summer there was a large box of Marvel action figures from brother Josh. Last summer it was a huge box of Lincoln Logs. Now this little batch.

I think the case is as cool as the figures. I can't remember if I had a case like this as a child, or if I just coveted one enough to feel like I had one. I definitely had Star Wars toys though. I remember wanting one of the big silver walking robot things so badly I could hardly stand it. My husband claims to have had one, but so far it hasn't turned up in any dusty old boxes stored around the place. So it looks like I am still out of luck on that one.

So it was all in all a good evening. I mucked out an area of the house that has needed it for a long time and have hope that by the holidays our house will have no room, corner, closet or cabinet stuffed with junk just to 'store it temporarily'. (Definition: just stuff it away so we don't see it anymore).

The worst things that seem to multiply when my back is turned are electronic cords. I have this fear that as soon as I throw one away, it will be the exact one I need to use. In hindsight I should have labeled them as acquired and then I could feel safe throwing them out. Alas, that is an idea I am stumbling upon a bit too late. I have ten years worth of gadget cords I need to sort!

It is sort of ridiculous, isn't it? I can't believe I am confessing to it on my blog. But they will soon be sorted and it will be one more thing to check off the ongoing task list. I love checking stuff off that list. Especially when doing so leads to toys. :)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Life is Good

Roasted red pepper hummus and sea salt pita chips... Icy cold diet coke... The Guild, Season 3 on the screen... A gigantic pre-felted version of a Gandalf-hat-to-be on the needles (Link to the pattern I am using. How awesome is this?).

Very nice way to end a weekend.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I haven't been around here much lately...

We've been walking. Kind of like Forrest Gump when he went out running and just didn't stop. But we do stop for work and eating and sleeping, boring stuff like that. The rest of the time we've been here...

On a wandering trail made of wooden planks. This trail fits my version of Neverland quite nicely.

Running over sand the instant I give the okay to hit the beach. It is too cold. It really is. But do they look like they care? Notice the complete lack of any other insane ones braving the water this day...

Walking with Ents. My kids didn't even notice at the time. I didn't let on because it is hard enough to get these two to come home without involving a walking tree.

Visiting a pirate island. Because what summer is complete without one?

Walking all Hansel and Gretel-like on the above mentioned pirate island, pretending to live a lost boy's life. Parents? What parents?

This is the little bridge the kids were walking across in the above picture. How cool is that? I am thinking I am going to do a pirate themed garden next year. Wooden planks, dune grass and scrubby bushes... You know, that started out as a joke, but as I wrote it down the idea sort of grew on me. Hmmm....

We've been wandering up hills, in and out of days to where the wild things are... The tiny pink dot at the top is my daughter. This path can be scary due to my particular boy child. All tall cliffs and eroding edges. He loves it with ferocious abandon. He is the king of all wild things.

Some of our limbs grew long and feet filled out all puppy-like. Alas, not mine. Lucky, I have strong legs like my mother... to run for cover when I need it. (Shakira for those who are wondering.) Doesn't everyone have that song running through their head 24/7? Or at least when they are trying to put on their autumn jeans? Just me? Huh. Whenever, Wherever... whatever. See how I did that?

We climbed a stairway to heaven while I rolled my terrible eyes, and gnashed my terrible teeth.

See? Heaven. Where water meets sky and straight on till morning.

And more stairs... Lucky I have strong legs like my mother... Mom, you know I love you. This really has nothing to do with your legs and everything to do with a near fatal earworm I am currently battling. You've heard that Shakira song, right? No? Here's a link for you. Writhing, mud, horses, yodeling, something for everyone. You can thank me later. La Lo La Le Lo Le...

We've pondered the reason for the mysterious wheels on the top of a dam.

Dam loud. Ha, ha, ha! Get it? Dam loud? Snort. Lucky that my lips not only mumble... they spill bad puns like a fountain loud clunky dam...

Never could I imagine there were only ten million ways to love somebody... awwww. And the song redeems itself.

All bad puns and songs aside - We are soaking up this time. This week the leaves started to turn and there is a glorious swirl of color and crunching and that tick, tick, tick of the speeding up thing time seems to do as it looks down the barrel of winter. So I imagine we will be packing yet more walks in before we need to see if my strong legs can still fit in my snow pants. Eek!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Life is a ball...

Can you believe I forgot we had this thing?

A bit larger than a soccer ball. Though after the kids were done rolling around inside like hamsters, they did have fun pushing it around in a soccerish manner. Since they could not see over or around it, it made it hard to actually score a goal.

It makes a cool little fort too. A fun place to hide from the adults who are too big to join in the fun. Bummer that - my husband and I were completely jealous.

Thank you, Grandma! This was a Christmas present from my mom. What lucky kids, huh? I had tucked it away to wait for warm weather. Whew! I almost missed it. Actually, it was perfect weather for it as the kids got quite warm running around inside.

Part of me really wants to take it to the sand dunes. That would either be the ultimate ride or a complete nightmare. The responsible mother in me says skip it, but something about this thing makes me feel like the child I used to be. The child that used to empty out her toybox, climb inside and roll down the stairs inside of it. Woohoo!