Friday, April 30, 2010

Diamonds in the Rough

I've been sick... blah, blah, blah. I've covered that already, haven't I? But this isn't a post to complain about the wretched illness that has taken over our spring. (Truly.) It is a post to celebrate the wonderful that happened even during the unlovely.

Like this gorgeous bit of good mail. Remember when I wrote about buying two prints on etsy, back when I was moaning about taxes instead of ill-health? I purchased this print from this amazing artist. Here's a link to her website too. I received this in the mail on one of my lowest days. What a perfect package to brighten my spirits. Look at the lovely colors. And I just adore it when artists take the time to write a little personal note! It is like getting a celebrity autograph. Even the envelope was beautiful (you can see it sticking out from under the print on the right.) I love when the creativity oozes out onto even the packaging materials.

Good mail wasn't all I received that day either. My mom dropped off this little care package of homemade pumpkin bread and lots of Campbells Chicken Soup. She offered to make homemade but I had a weird craving for canned soup. Silly me, because my mom's soup is delicious! Basically it was because I had no ability to taste and I figured the salt from the canned soup might cut through some of the fog. She also brought some frozen italian ice treats that I forgot to put in the picture. My mom is awesome!

And then, there is this puppy. How cute is this picture my daughter took? It reminds me of that product line with the big headed dogs. This puppy was very generous with cuddles and love for all of us sicklings. So comforting. I am glad we gave into the wild impulsive urge to get a dog. She's been such a joy!

Just wanted to share these bright spots in our last couple of gray and lumpy sort of weeks. We are all nicely on the mend now and itching to join the spring fun - Just in time for the weekend. Thank goodness.

Wishing everyone a healthy and sunny weekend!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Glue Batik + Robot = Good Craft Day

Check out this cool project on this awesome blog. I had to try it out right away. I know the point of her blog is to present art to do with children, but my kids were asleep when I started and rather unimpressed during the middle phases. It wasn't until the end product that their eyes got wide and they immediately wanted to start their own. I can't wait to try it with them and see what they come up with. I am thinking this might be how we create our summer wardrobe.

Basically, it is a sort of batik mimic that uses gel glue instead of the pesky wax and acrylic paint instead of dye. Easier and quicker and more kid friendly! Love it, love it, love it! In my haste to find a blank canvas to try this technique I could only get my hands on a t-shirt in my boy's size. While I loved the way the earth looked in the original tutorial, I figured my boy would probably love a robot shirt more, so that is what I attempted.

Since That Artist Woman created such a great tutorial, I will just do a minimum sort of thing showing the steps I took. If you want to try this then I recommend following her thorough step-by-step post.

This shows (barely) the drawing I made to put on the shirt. I just did a quick sketch then used it as a visual guide while I drew with the glue. This part was really fun. It is impossible to be perfect drawing with glue, so it made it easier to relax and just roll with whatever happened.

Glue outlines. The hardest part was waiting for this to dry completely before starting to paint!

The fun part! Color! Blue for the robot.

Getting fancy with the border.

Then the part I forgot to photograph, and the only part I had trouble with. Soaking the shirt in hot water for 30 minutes to dissolve the glue after the paint was dry. My glue did not dissolve in a half hour. In fact for awhile I wasn't sure it was going to ever dissolve. But I just kept refilling the sink with hot water and eventually the paint started to come away easily with my thumb nail. Patience paid off, because my boy loves his shirt. Yay! Oh, and be sure to throw in the dryer to dry at this point to heat set.

I had a blast making this! It was easily the most enjoyable project I've done in a long time. I can't wait to make some with the kids. I'm going to have to stock up on the gel glue!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I love this song!

I just stumbled upon this song and really like it. There are a lot of songs out there with a Juliet theme but this one is by far my favorite. The video is nice, but the lyrics are better. I like the idea that star-crossed lovers don't have to be doomed. I guess I am a romantic.

Edited to add: I just went to buy the single on itunes and checked out the group's other stuff. Royal Wood is their name. Wow. I love it all.

Something I need to work on...

Last week, a friend emailed me asking for a photo of me with the kids. She needs it for a Mother's Day section in the local paper. This is not an honorary thing, it is a 'Hey, we need filler' thing. Since I used to work there this kind of request is sort of common, so I reluctantly I started looking for a photo. I mean, I am all for my kids being in the paper, but me? Ugghh... not so much.

I expected that it would be hard to come up with a photo that I liked of myself, but what startled me was that it was hard to come up with a photo of me at all (that wasn't taken using the computers low quality photo booth program). Oh, there are a few hundred of me that my husband took when I pulled a Britney and hacked all my hair off. Oh, yes I did. And lucky me, thanks to my husband's twisted sense of humor, there is a ton of proof. Yay. (Hey, I blame the hormones as I was weaning my daughter. Take my advice and don't tease a hormonal girl about her hair. Thank you.)

But it was a little sobering to realize that if something happened to me, that my flirtation with insanity would be the main photographic reminder of my life that I left behind for my kids. I need to get in front of the camera more. And the newspaper's lack of participation in the Mother's Day section is quite possibly an indicator that this is a common theme in families. The Father's Day special section is pages and pages of silly, happy, sweet, funny, touching and embarrassing pictures of dads with their kids, the Mother's Day section barely exists. Mom needs to be in more pictures!

I believe that mom needs to hand over the camera and step into the frame every now and again. I am making this a new goal for the current year. If I am snapping photos of the family I'll try to get one or two shots of me as well. I urge any camera shy person out there that might stumble upon this blog to do the same.

The above photo is what I eventually sent in. I was pleased to find it, and try to censor my inner critic and just fall in love with the happy memory the picture evokes. I can remember that my husband had to make me get in the photo. Now I am glad that he did. I will keep that in mind every time I protest having the camera aimed in my direction.

I can't wait to walk on our favorite trail that is in the photo. The weather has been willing, but my family has been so sick! Myself included, which is kind of funny. A month ago I actually got a little telling off by my doctor, because I hadn't been in enough to still qualify as a patient. I just don't usually get doctor-office-worthy sick. What am I supposed to do? Stop in with cookies or something? I had been in the office a couple years ago, but for things that 'don't count', a like tetanus shot and stuff that didn't require the doctor to see me. So when I went in for my boob drama a few weeks back (all clear!) I had to go through the whole process of becoming a patient again. My husband usually gets a couple ugly sinus infections a year, so I figured he did a good enough job representing the family.

Ironically, here I am just a few weeks down the road and about to call the doctor for myself. My girl went in yesterday and did need a prescription to get the crud out of her lungs and to clear up an secondary ear infection. My boy got over it all on his own. My husband seems to have just an average cold. For a change, I seem to be the sickest of all and ughh... I am so not patient when it comes to my own illness. This one is ugly, as in I look like a swamp monster. It seems to have attacked my face, my eyes and nose especially. After several days of constantly watering eyes, I am surprised I still have eyelashes left after all the wiping away tears, and my eyes are almost swollen shut. Sexy.

Needless to say, I won't let anyone take my picture anytime soon. ;0) But after this all clears up, it will be one of my personal challenges for the year.

Wishing everyone a healthy and photogenic week!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Idle hands are paypal's playground...

I've had itchy paypal fingers lately so I needed something to keep my hands busy. I had the idea to draw little room scenes on 1 inch blocks. I thought I could then stack them to look like a tiny dollhouse. And if I put a different room on each side, then the 'dollhouse' will be changeable. I admit it. I will never outgrow toys. Ever.

It is a pretty small canvas, so my drawing is pretty wobbly. But I like the idea. I am waiting for the base coat to dry on the other blocks so I can draw some more rooms and put them together to see if the reality matches what I envision.

They are fun little things to make and it is so far doing the job of keeping me distracted and away from ebay. It all started really innocently, I was looking for pretty pillowcases to decorate my girl's room. I was shocked at the sticker price for new cases that weren't even that cute. So I went on ebay and was drawn in by the gorgeous vintage linens that can be found. One small win led to another bid, etc. Now I am feeling a little repentant... Sigh.

The good news, I will be having a few good mail days coming up. The bad news... EEK! There is no shopping in tax season! Not even for reasonably priced vintage linens. So I am doing other things now. Trying not even to think about ebay. EEEEbbbaaayyy... Ebay loves me, this I know. For my feedback tells me so. Such good deals just can't be wrong. My will is weak and Paypal's strong.

Okay, so now I am slap happy too.

Anyway. Even with my little foray into ebay country, we have had a decent weekend. My mother-in-law is healing nicely from her knee surgery. The weather was cold, but sunny. The kids have a bit of a chesty cough thing going on, but don't seem to be progressing into any kind of major illness. But that is all enough to keep us in the house a bit too much. Hence my current shopping habits.

Don't get me wrong. It isn't all ebay around here. I caught this on film today. My daughter playing her newest piano piece, Sonata in C. She's shy with me filming her. So I had to sneak up and I missed a bit of the beginning.

I have never uploaded a video to blogger straight from my computer before. Usually I use a third party transition place, like photobucket. So I hope it turns out and isn't so huge it makes this page load slowly.

Here's my artistic shot of the day...
It's not the picture that is awesome, it is the color of the sky. Of course the photo didn't capture it exactly, but it is close. That blue was so amazing. It is so cool how sometimes at dusk the color saturates the whole sky and everything is tinted one color, usually it is green. I've rarely seen such a blue evening. Oh, and if you click on the picture to view it larger, ignore the ghost clings still on my window from Halloween. Thanks!

Wishing everyone a great week filled with strong resolve to avoid the temptations that plague them, or errr... something like that. How about, wishing everyone a week of good mail days, and busy, crafty hands. Better?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Mail good, Taxes bad. Which pretty much sums up my week...

Meet my new pretty. I got her from here... this lovely artist's etsy shop. Laini Taylor is an amazing artist and is fast becoming one of my favorite authors. I discovered her blog awhile ago when I was researching the Laini's Ladies I found in a local store. Which led to me buying (and loving) her books, which led to me buying (and loving) her art... Which led to me sounding like a creepy stalker. But whatever, girl's got pink hair. What can I say?

I've had an itchy paypal finger lately. It has a lot to do with taxes and medical stuff and how if I stay up too late at night when I am nervous, I either eat or start cruising etsy and ebay. Luckily the medical stuff is almost over, and so far so good. My mother-in-law had knee replacement surgery last week and all went well, and I had some tests done that have turned out fine. Good thing, because I ended up ordering two prints, one for each medical drama. If things hadn't gone well I'd have ended up with lots of pretty art, but no home to hang it in. Dreaded paypal button. I haven't received my other print yet, but I'll post a pic when I get it.

Taxes... Oy. That is another story entirely. Taxes are so yucky that I actually lose my appetite over them, and of course I can't shop when what I am freaking out about bleeding money. So I resort to my other nervous habits. Crafting and cleaning. Surprise, huh? I am sure my counselor sister has a few labels she can assign this behavior. But she's younger than I am, so we really don't have to pay any attention to her, now do we?

So thanks to my nervous cleaning/crafting habit, this picture is of my newest little craft corner. I took a cd shelf I had stashed away (who has cds anymore right?), dusted it off and placed it beside my chair. It clutters my space up a bit, but it holds all the materials I have been working with lately. I do have an art room, but I like to sit in the middle of the action more often than not. So instead of carting everything back and forth, I made this space.

Here's a close up of my shelf. I got addicted to making the doll in a little box home after I made one for a recent swap I was in. So when the past few weeks started stressing me out, I just kept making them. (Hush, sister. Industrious/Manic. Tomato/Tomaato. Whatever.) This shot shows some boxes I made out of scrapbook paper. The silver baby cup holds my clay carving tools that I purchased what feels like a few lifetimes ago, back in college. It is good to use them again.

Here is a shot of some of the dolls in their alien phase. Every time I see this picture I get tempted to watch the movie The Fourth Kind. I've heard intense things about it. I'd love to watch it, but I also love to sleep. Not sure if one would happen after the other.

Then there is this mess. Uggghhh.... The piles of papers on the table and the box on the floor are only the very beginning stages of organizing the paperwork for my husband's business. There are four more boxes to sort after this one!
I don't know if I am more frustrated over his 'throw it in the box' method of filing or that I let these shenanigans go on for over two years. I suspect he used the 'mess it up enough and my uptight wife will take over' method of coercion here. Yeah, he got me. It works every single time. Maybe, I am too predictable?

Anyway. That's me and why my blog has been on silent mode lately. Well, part of the reason. Probably the best reason of all is that spring has actually visited my state early this year. We have flowers, ya'll - And have had them since March! See? Mother nature has been manic industrious too.

Here is a photo of the first kid picked bouquet of the season. Sweetness. 

Wishing everyone calm, health and wealth. Have a great week!

Friday, April 2, 2010

To Swap-bot Craft/Design Blog Visitors...

My blog does mix family life with my craft pursuits. If you want to take a shortcut to posts that only contain craft stuff, just go to the labels on the right hand side of my blog and click on projects. Or here is a link. I've tried to tag most of the crafty things I do with that label, only one or two might have slipped past.

I think it would give you a better taste of my crafty life than sifting through the first couple pages of my blog. Though anyone is welcome to read and comment on anything if they want. I'm just posting this to make it easier for people only interested in crafting and less interested in motherly musings. Thanks!