Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas is almost here.

this little gem was a custom mixed media painting for Heather.  she had a great quote and she asked me to make a painting based on it.  what an honor!

Christmas is just around the corner.  The last couple of days have been pretty nice... school is still going on (for two more hours), it is getting chillier, and I have sewn and/or painted my last order.  So, what have I been doing with myself?  Not cleaning.  Not exercising.  I have been sitting around in my pajamas in the morning sipping coffee and working on the art class I am taking on-line.  Then when I am good and inspired, I retreat to my studio and play catch-up on my art journal.  I was about six prompts behind.  Then I shower and have lunch with my hubby. 

It has been a wonderful couple of days.  They were desperately needed.  The school Christmas break begins this afternoon and I am ready to start wearing my daytime clothes again and get back to work.  Oh, wait... the girls will be home so I may need to postpone the work part and go straight to playtime.  Sweet!!!  Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Good Ideas, Procrastination, and Advent Cards

I blame Pinterest!  I am telling you, Pinterest has helped me fine tune my procrastination skills.  Each year the girls get one of those cute little store bought Advent Calendars.  You know the ones,  you pop open a door, pull out a piece of candy, and count down the days until Christmas.  I have a funny story!  One year we tampered with Gigi's and replaced her candy with raisins.  Good thing that kid has a sense of humor.  Gene and I rolled with laughter.  In fact, I am laughing now just remembering her face.  Back to the Advent Calendar... I couldn't find one this year that was Christian based.  I mean really!  It shouldn't be hard to find an Advent Calendar that focuses on Baby Jesus?!?!  Hello, people.
I decided to search Pinterest and make my own (this was several weeks ago).  I guess it's not fair to blame Pinterest because if I am honest I would tell you that I never even looked for one.  I always get distracted and find myself looking at other pins - especially the ones that are designed to help you stay focused and organized.  Oh, the irony.
I think at one point or another each member of my family reminded me that there was not an Advent Calendar to be found in our home.  I was also reminded that I have been forgetting to read the Nativity story out of the Bible in the evening.  The plan was to travel through story of the birth of Jesus Christ as Christmas approaches.  Hmmmm,  I'll catch up.
I read my friend's blog, It's all Good, today.  She talked about making Advent Calendar cards and sharing them.  In the blog she mentioned that there are still 12 days of Christmas left if you didn't start your calendar on the first of December.  Brilliant!  I decided to make my own advent cards for the girls.

I had a short amount of time before my oldest was due home from school so I got right to work.  I searched Pinterest for Nativity Bible verses, copied a few, and cut them into sloppy strips.  I taped them on a card and wrote a coupon on the back.  the cards and envelopes are similar to library cards.  Remember those?  If I had more time, organization, and supplies, I would have spruced up the cards.  As they are, the girls will be reminded daily of Baby Jesus, I will get at least two trips to Culvers, and we can enjoy our countdown.  I think the girls will love them.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Busy Holdiays and Holiday Bazaars

This post is just a bit of thoughts - no pictures - just funny thoughts I am having over my coffee.

The past three weeks have been so very busy.  I've participated in my first craft bazaars... three to be exact.  The first one was supposed to be the big money maker.  Last year it was packed with vendors and people.  To prepare, I made inventory like crazy.  I had over 150 items.  I was sad to see the folks trickling in  - maybe a few customers walked by every 30 minutes.  A friend came by to see me and told me that there were FOUR other craft fairs that day and she was going to them all.  Hmmm, that explained a lot!!!  Needless to say, I have extra bags, wallets, and other wonderful goodies left over but I am thrilled to say that we made a enough to pay for all our Christmas purchases and maybe have a bit left over.

Gene was great.  He set up at each one and sold the daylights out of my stuff.  I love to create but I hate to market.  Gene just lights up and turns on the charm when the tired Mom, who is lugging around a few kids and baby, comes by our booth.  Gene cracks me up... he said he would much rather be manning the booth than be one of the depressed husbands being dragged to the craft fair.  ha ha

It was interesting to see what people would spend their hard earned money on.  I sold out of iPad totes but could barely sell a large tote.  It is easy to look back and see that customers did not come to the craft fairs this year to spend more than $20 on an item unless it was something specific they wanted.  Good to know for next year. 

One of the best parts was... for the first time... I made my paintings available for sale.  They were a hit and that makes me so happy happy.  It is hard to put something so personal out there for the public to critique or walk past without even a second glance.  Plus, I really enjoy painting mixed-media paintings.  I may enjoy it more than sewing but I still love the practicality of sewing and knowing that I may be helping keep the earth clean.  Let's ban plastic bags!  Who's with me?  ha ha

In conclusion, (can you tell I have been helping the girls write reports for school?)  my house is a disaster.  I have all these beautiful Christmas decorations up but we can't see past the chaos to enjoy them.  As a result, I am forbidden to enter my art studio.  I must clean, finish laundry, blah, blah.  My only question is... do I shower first.  I'll have to have another cup of coffee and watch one of my on-line art class sessions, The Art of Wild Abandonment 2.  Then I'll start cleaning.  I promise!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Christmas - mixed media paintings

This has been a great season for my creative side.  I love painting and mixed media is easily my favorite style.  It feels like free expression and an opportunity to recycle all in one.  Perfect for me and my happy heart.
These are a few Christmas canvases I painted to sell at Holiday Bazaars.   The theme is all about Christmas songs that celebrate the birth of Jesus.  My inspirations for paintings usually come during church.  A verse will be read or the speaker will say something that holds special meaning to me at the time.  If you saw my journal that I write sermon notes in, you would notice many sketches on the left side of the notebook and notes about the sermon on the right.  For some reason, sketching and taking notes helps me retain what I hear. 
I am grateful for the gift of creativity and also grateful that the paintings are well received and finding new homes.
A Newborn King To See

Following Yonder Star

Peace On The Earth, Good Will To Men

And Heaven And Nature Sing

Monday, November 12, 2012

Rocking My Baby - Mixed Media Painting

This mixed media painting was a baby shower gift for my friend Stesha.  Her first baby, Evangeline, will be here soon and I wanted to make her something special.  The color palate was a challenge for me.  I usually go bright but knowing that the baby's room is a sophisticated pink and grey, I tried to tame it down a bit.  I was going for soothing but there for a while it looked like I was inspired by Lord of The Rings.  ha ha  I like the end result - a bit make believe but still light and airy.  My favorite part is the moth with angel wings.  Please forgive the awful lighting.  I forgot to take pictures until late afternoon and it was time to wrap the painting for delivery.  These pictures will have to do.

Rocking My Baby

I like to use a thicker canvas so the sides become part of the art.

Such a beautiful poem.  I try to parent with this mantra in mind.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Boo! Halloween 2012

Gigi had me paint her face for Halloween.  I really enjoyed painting her face but I missed seeing her in costume.  My girl is growing up.


Prom Queen Zombie - This costume fits Greta perfectly.  She loved it.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Volleyball 2012

This year was the first time the girls have played on a volleyball team.  Getting the girls to their practices, games, and being an assistant coach was a bit hectic for me but being there to watch them grow was priceless. 

Greta has always wanted to play volleyball.  I think she was surprised at how difficult it can be - players on tv make it look effortless.  She learned a lot about the sport, worked hard, and paid close attention to the techniques.  Her goal is to continue to work on serving and hopefully she will have the fundamental down for her overhand serve by next year.


I have a confession... I pressured Gigi into playing volleyball.  I just wanted her to give it a try.  At first she was timid but her competitive side kicked in and she started practicing at home.  She wanted to be an important member of her team.  I am so proud of her... she started out not knowing how to serve or hit the ball but by the end of the season she had a strong overhand serve and was enjoying the sport.  She even suggested that she might play again next year.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Fort Leonard Wood Art Show and Bravery

 I did something that took a lot of bravery on my part. I entered four paintings into a small local art show.  I love to design, sew, draw, and paint.  Up until now, I have kept it to myself or only shared with close friends.  Art is so personal.  A big thank you goes to Gene who always encourages me to follow my dream.  I was so unsure about entering the art show that he was the one who delivered the paintings.  I'm still working on the bravery thing.

I grew up learning how to draw and paint things exactly as they appear.  As I have gotten older I have realized that things are seldom as they seem so I wanted to start adapting my art to "real life."  I have embraced mixed media painting.  It give me a sense of freedom.  So many things are layered into the piece... scraps of paper, material, paint, modeling paste, and little trinkets that I find or are given to me.

My inspiration usually comes from a Bible verse or a little something that I noticed one day that had meaning to me.  I have a little sketch book that I do quick sketch of an idea and when I have time to paint, I go back to the sketch book and find what's inspiring.

First Place - Mixed Media  "Let your gentleness be evident to all."

Third Place - Mixed Media - "Greta" (she gave me the little green jewel and asked me to make her a painting with it.)

Water color - "Snowbird"
Mixed Media  - "To Ensure our Protection"  (There is a picture of my husband taking command and a picture of his father in Vietnam embedded in the painting)

Here are a few of my favorite pieces at the art show.

Can you feel the emotion?  We all have days like this.

This guy wasn't entered in the show.  It was a featured painting by a local artist.  I love the colors.

I don't know the name of this one but it has a religious feel to me... truly God's country.


There was also an ice sculptor.  The girls loved watching him work.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Poppy Cat Sews, the craft show, and turning 40

Fabric cut and waiting to be turned into a "The Kam" tote bag. 

As I was heading into my studio today to sew... in my pajamas, hair not brushed, and barefoot, it dawned on me that I should be documenting this part of my life.  I recently turned 40 years old and I have been doing some reflecting on my life as it stands at this moment.

It can get lonely but I have my best employee with me every day.

I am were I want to be.

How often does that happen in someones life?  I always wanted to be an artist, have a career, and have a cozy family that is happy.  So I am thinking about my accomplishments - I have a masters degree in Social Work.  I worked successfully in the field but when I had babies I knew I wanted to be a stay at home mom.  I had seen how cruel people can be and I wanted to protect my children and give them the best start that I knew how.

My Mom worked on the family farm but somehow managed to be standing behind the kitchen counter when I walked in the door from school.  She did her best to provide a loving environment and to let us know we were important in her life.  I want to give that gift to my girls and I feel like I am successful.  I admit, there are moments when I am the dreaded Helicopter Mom but that's okay.  At least I recognize it and back off.

My painting desk is a disaster.  Sewing supplies are spilling over.

I put off my dream of being an artist until now for many reasons.  Initially I was focused on my career, then I was focused on my little ones, and the dedication of being a military wife takes a lot of my energy.  I realized this year that I am ready to start my dream.  It is a delicate balance between caring for my family, holding back my fear of failure, and deciding how I define my success. 

A stack of tote bag handles cut out and waiting to be ironed.
An hour of ironing and they are ready to be sewn.

I think this morning was a success... in my pajamas with kids safely at school, a spouse on his way to work, and me ironing countless tote bag straps.  A few months ago I started an on-line store, Poppy Cat Sews.  It is a work in progress.  Last week I entered a few paintings in an art show, and I am currently preparing for my first craft show.  Being 40 years old is feeling good.

Piano at School

We were so happy for Gigi... she and another student were invited to play the piano during the grand opening of her new school - The Sixth Grade Center.  As the guests took their seats to hear the welcoming presentation by the principal, one of the school districts music teachers softly played the piano and then Gigi played Arabesque and In The Hall of The Mountain King.   It was a wonderful acknowledgment of her hard work.
I hope experiences like this encourage her to continue to practice and play.  She also successfully tried out for the Honor Choir.  Her goal is to someday play the accompanying piano pieces for the choir.  I look forward to that day... I love to listen to her play.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Happy Birthday Greta!

 Greta had a great 9th birthday celebration.  Her Papa Bill and Arlene came to visit and took her out to dinner to her favorite chinese restaurant, Chopstix, two days before her birthday.  The next day she had a slumber party with two of her friends and her big sister.  It was a busy day that started off with swimming at The Centre, an indoor pool with slides and other fun stuff to play on, and then back to the house to play.

The dinner she picked out was corn dogs, edemame, sweet potato wedges, and watermelon.  She thought a lot about her birthday dinner because she wanted it to be balanced between junk food and healthy food.  Everyone was too full for cake after dinner so the presents were opened and then they went off to play.  A few hours later, after everyone had on their jammies, they all enjoyed a late night snack of cake and ice cream.  I had my concerns about giving them sweets so close to bedtime but I guess all the activity exhausted everyone because when lights went out so did the girls.

I can tell this is going to be a good year for Greta.  She has matured into a  confident, funny, and thoughtful young lady. Greta has found a sense of contentment and understanding that she has never had before.  She contiues to be very artistic and a noticer.  She notices  beautiful things that others miss.  Plus, if she notices something beautiful about someone she will compliment them... even if it is a stranger in passing.  That is a wonderful gift to give people.

Slumber Party Guests:  Heather, Gigi, Greta, and Paige

Greta 9 yrs old and Gigi 11 yrs old

Heather and Greta

Greta and her Bestie - Paige

Greta designed her cake and I iced it.  She loved the results!

Thinking about her birthday wish.

I hope your birthday wishes come true.

"The Viv" Library Tote

Meet "The Viv".  This is a new tote bag designed for a busy SAHM to stay organized and have it all in one tote.  My friend, Tab, is a SAHM to her 18 month old Vivi.  Tab's dilema was that she needed a bag that could carry everything for the day and go from the library to the beach.  Ya' did I mention that she just moved to Hawaii?  Tough dilema, huh? 

It just so happens that I have been designing a new tote that would allow it to be over stuffed with bulky heavy things but not be too large for everyday use.  When I go to the library with the girls my bag is frequently overflowing with books.  I thought that an adjustable flap would be just the thing.  It tucks into the bag when not in use but if you need a few extra inches to pile the stuff up, the flap comes out and ties closed.  If it falls over in the car, the books stay in the bag and don't slide under the seat.  Hmmm, if I had a dollar for every time that has happened to me. 

Tab also needed a toiletry bag to contain her lip gloss collection and keys.

The last addition was the diaper clutch.  It will hold a few diapers and a small package of wipes.  It is easy to find and you don't have to carry the entire tote bag around for a quick diaper change.  I hope "The Viv"  gets years of usage at the library and the beach.