Thursday, December 19, 2013

Curtains, who needs them?

I wonder if this will be me by the end of summer?  I am thrilled that the empty lots are selling in our fabulous subdivision.  The lot beside our house and the lot behind our house have sold.  I can feel our property value increasing.
.However,  I must admit that I was a bit surprised to see this giant start to go up behind me.  The majority of houses on our street are for people with arthritic knees, just like me.  They are lovely single story homes.  There are a few two story houses mixed in, no problem.  All the houses are beautiful, just like this home will be.  It just feels odd to know that folks can look into my backyard.  However, they may be sorry for two simple reasons.  First, I don't care for blinds.  I like the sun to shine in.  As a result, I don't have curtains or blinds that cover the window.  All my curtains are for looks only.  I'm sure the neighbors have learned to look away.  Second, Gene takes the dogs out back in his skivvies late at night and early in the morning.  It makes me giggle just thinking about those poor people looking out their bedroom window in the morning, stretching, and enjoying the start of their day only to look down and BAM!  there's Gene on the back porch.  ha ha!!! I don't know, maybe he will start putting on a robe.

I have reminded myself that once spring arrives that I won't be able to see the house.  There is a beautiful mature tree already there and I planted apple trees in that corner.  Plus, it is a great excuse to continue to landscape - one of my favorite things to do.  Get the shovel ready Geno, I need some evergreens.

August has been guarding the yard.  He normally doesn't hang out in the yard but he is really enjoying being a guard pup.  Isn't he the cutest?  I wish I had a picture of him standing.  He is an Australian Shepherd and Basset Hound mix.  He has those adorable short turned in Basset legs.  It just makes me smile to look at him.

Lastly, I wish I had learned more in my Spanish classes.  The construction workers enjoy their day.  They are always joking and laughing... loudly.  I want to laugh with them.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Quality materials are a must - don't be cheap like me.

A big sigh...

I have a habit of being thrifty.  I always try to go the less expensive route and more than once, I have paid the price.  My lesson I have learned is to always use quality art material where it matters most - the foundation.

See the slightly messed up lower left corner?

I had a slightly warped and inexpensive canvas I had been saving.  I thought it would be good for an experiment in mixed media.  I mean, what would it matter?  If the painting was a total pile of yuck then I didn't lose much money on my canvas.  It never crossed my mind that I might love the painting.  I have learned my lesson.

I started painting on my wobbly warped canvas, ignoring that it was bouncing all over the table.  It was just a little warped.  I didn't know that the paint would eventually make it worse.  So, now I have this experiment that I love, that is hanging on my wall for everyone to see right when you enter my home, and it drives me crazy.

Moral of the story... use quality material.  The canvas matters.  Oh, and be careful if you bump up against the painting that is meant to be touched.  It is hanging a bit precariously and may jump off the wall.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Christmas Mixed Media Paintings

Wow, it has been a long time since I posted.  We moved into our new house six months ago and I finally found my camera battery but I am still missing my SD cards.  I'm really wishing I had been more diligent about backing up my pictures.  boo hoo

Christmas is around the corner and I had a great time painting these mixed media paintings.  My husband has been in the Army for over 20 years.  This Christmas I was inspired by all my military friends who have endured and tried to enjoy Christmas during deployments.  It is an unbelievably emotional time.

I always try to add a ton of texture to my paintings.  I want the viewer to pick them up and touch them.  My favorite part of this group of paintings is the snow.  It is molding paste that is swirled, painted, and then sparkled.  That's how I imagine snow looks like when it is fresh and the sun makes it sparkle.  I normally add a saying to my paintings, which are normally inspired by scripture or a song, but this time I left two blank so they could be personalized.  The fireplace painting and the Christmas tree painting now have personal messages.

I hope you have a Merry Christmas!

... and the fire is so delightful

Goodwill towards men


Peace & Joy


Winter Cabin

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Getting Settled

I has been a month since we have moved to our new house.  So far we love it.  I would post some pictures but for some unknown reason I haven't been able to load pictures since we moved.

The actual move was a little frustrating and Gene is still trying to catch up.  The mover/driver chose to not hire helpers and had his family help him unload our household goods.  He had a 13 year old son, and 10 year old son, and his wife (who didn't seem to embrace his decision).  Although I applaud him for teaching his children the lessons and benefits of hard work, they were too small to carry a lot of items and didn't seem to understand the process.  As a result, a lot of furniture was slightly damaged, things ended out in odd places, or things didn't get any farther than the garage.  I think the most frustrating part for Gene was that the mover took apart a lot of furniture that shouldn't have been taken apart and didn't put it back together.  As a result, we have had to order new parts, etc.  But like I said, I still like a family that works together.

We  have been spoiled by our military moves the past 20 years.  After we have unpacked, the moving company always came back to pick up our boxes and packing paper.  The sweet life is over.  The girls and I tackled that job.  We found a recycling area the next town away and filled up our little red car multiple times.  Even though it was hot and humid work, I thought it was fun.  It cracked me up to see the girls in the car with paper packed all around them.  They even talked one of the neighborhood kids into helping.  It was so satisfying to see the finished project... our garage floor.

We are still hanging curtains... a job Geno and I both despise, but for the most part, we are settled in.  The girls have enjoyed the neighborhood pool.  Gene has taken Gigi fishing at the river that runs beside our subdivision.  The absolute best part was that the first week there we were invited to a neighborhood barbecue.  The neighbors are so fun and friendly.

I know we are going to like it here.  Now, I just need to get Gene to dig more holes in the yard for my landscaping obsession.  ha ha

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Mountains and Fireflies

Before my dear friend Jen moved to Utah she asked me to paint her a picture with mountains and fireflies, her two favorite things.  I had never painted a firefly picture before so I was excited about the challenge and wanted the picture to be extra special for her. 

Jen is so vibrant and fun that I decided to make the painting bright and colorful like her.  I normally age my paintings but this time I went for all the joy and wonder I could create.  Gosh, I'll miss this girl.

Late For Class

July is more than half way through and I still have some late June-early July posts yet to write.  I started this post before we moved in early July and have since lost the draft.  No surprise there.  I've lost multiple things in the past few weeks during our move. 

Some wonderful ladies came over for a mixed media painting class.  Their paintings turned out beautifully and we had such a great time laughing.

I am a messy free spirited painter and reminded them several times to PUT DOWN YOUR PAINTBRUSH (Gina).  I wanted them to feel their art... literally.  Paint washes off eventually.

Beautiful paintings ladies. 


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Painting Smalls - Mixed Media

We are in the middle of moving and can you guess what I am obsessed with?  All I want to do is paint 6x6 mixed media paintings.  This size of canvas is one of my favorite.  I can finish a simple painting in a day or two and since it is a "deep" canvas, the sides become part of the painting.

Maybe I am enjoying painting these so much because I packed up my sewing machine and already shipped it to our new home a few states away - or - maybe it is because I am avoiding the never ending cleaning that needs to be done to move from our rental house.  Either way, I am loving my time in my art studio. 

Believe The Best

Know In Your Heart


Tuesday, April 30, 2013

How to manage time...

There are so many things I want to try to create.  Some are completely full of artistic freedom... I have a stack of canvases sitting beside my painting table just waiting for the ideas to be put into color.  I'm not running short of ideas.  I have a sermon journal/sketchbook full. I also have sewing orders that need to be completed as fast as my little arthritic fingers can move.

Can you hear them calling my name?

Then I look at blogs like this one and I am inspired at Lisa Leonard's time management skills.  She has a successful jewelry business, looks adorable, and continues to create for her personal space.  Plus, she has a family who she talks about and the challenges that come with her story.  How does she do it?  I wonder if she feels totally frazzled in real life but pulls it all together for the blog.  I want to make some of these dishtowels for our new my spare time.

these are so simple and cute
Poppy Cat Sews is doing well; however, I am struggling to figure out how to successfully juggle all the responsibilities.  Do I fill orders and let my house go to shambles (which drives me crazy)?  I love to design and sew but my heart also desires to paint.  And, how do I manage family and continue with the unbelievably high mothering standard to which they are accustomed (sarcasm)?  It's all a conundrum for me. 
A collection of crossbody bags.

I have one statement that is on my mind... pray without ceasing.  I may not have figured out how to manage my time in the way that I want or with the discipline that is needed but I am thrilled that I am overflowing with the gift of creativity.  I've held it at bay for 20 years and I know I am moving towards living the life God called me to live at this place in time... even if it is a bit chaotic, unbalanced, and messy (just like this blog post).

Saturday, April 27, 2013

How do you know you are loved?

One the way to our house there are beautiful purple flowers that grow out of the rock face from the side of the road.  I know I am loved because Gene scaled the rocks and picked me a bouquet.  I opened the door and Gigi presented this wonderful surprise to me with a smile (not this goofy smile, which I love).  God is good.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Off Track In The Rain

This picture is obviously not me but it's the best I could find when I searched for "joints and rain".  Most of the pics were not about knee joints!  HA HA
Spring is the time to start fresh, right?  For some reason Mother Nature and my heart and body doesn't realize this.  The weather here has been unpredictable... just like me.  I am normally organized and think of myself as someone who handles change well.  I am a military spouse after all! 

I have been in a slump.  My life has gotten a bit off kilter and I am really looking forward to Spring.  I am ready to start fresh and start finding gratitude for God's gifts.  I even bought air fresheners for my car that say Think Happy Be Happy.

Today is rainy.  I usually love the rainy days.  I'll work extra hard in the morning to be able to carve out some time in the afternoon to sit and read a book and enjoy the rain.  Today I realized that it takes longer to recover from surgery than I thought and rain makes the pain flare up but I am happy to have a knee that is still getting me around - even if it is super achy on rainy days.  I missed an Etsy order and discovered that people are kind and forgiving.  Thank you Lindsay for your understanding.  I may be easily overwhelmed at this moment and a bit emotional.  We have a move coming up and so many things to keep my mind wrapped around.  I am thankful to God for making me a woman who feels joy just as strongly as any other emotion.  I am also blessed to have a family who sees my needs.  Just last night my husband listened to my worries and assured me that he understood and my girls cleaned the kitchen after dinner so I could have a break.

So, thank you God for getting me a bit off track in the rain today so I can be reminded to be thankful for the mercy and grace that you have freely given.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Learning to grocery shop once a month...

Please take note that my title has the word "learning" in it.  March was my first attempt at monthly shopping.  I did pretty well but I still over purchased.  One of the things I learned is that we only drink a gallon of milk a week.  We are still drinking last months milk.  Good thing it has been frozen. 

I really need to think about lunch for the girls.  They take their lunch to school every day and by the end of the month we were trying to come up with anything that would be easy to eat and pack.  They only get a few minutes for lunch so the food has to be easy to shovel in.  Isn't that sad?  We quickly ran out of apples and fruit.  Fresh fruit, especially apples, is a big lunch staple in our house.  As a result, I have given myself "permission" to shop for produce twice a month.  To be honest, I did have to sneak to the store and buy some lettuce.  Gene was sorely missing his salads.

My budget goal for April was $300.  I failed on that one.  I didn't take the time to plan well and left the few coupons I had at home.  It's been a crazy month and it hasn't even been two weeks yet. ha ha I also did a little retail therapy and bought things I didn't really need or were more expensive than was needed.  Note to self:  STICK TO THE LIST!  I did stick to my original $400 budget which is quite an accomplishment since I forgot when I was planning the shopping list that we needed pet food and all our bathroom paper products.  TMI?

As far as the pre-made homemade mixes... the oatmeal and pancake mix was a huge success.  The containers are completely empty.  The dry cream-of soup mix will be reluctently used.  It tastes odd, not terrible, but just off a bit.  I will probably try it again but add different spices.

I have started following The Krazy Coupon Lady on Facebook.  They post every great sale and coupon available.  Some days I get a little bugged by all the posts but I know that when we move and live in a metropolitan area that it will be more helpful.  I also got the Ibotta app on my iPhone.  Sadly, it doesn't work with the commissary but in a few months I'll have a Target available and will use it then.  Take a look at their Facebook page or blog.  It has a bazillion money saving tips for popular stores.

My goal next month is to get as close to $300 as I can.  I'm going to have to be more organized and clip some coupons but I think I can do it.  Wish me luck.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Saving Money and Monthly Grocery Shopping

There are always ways to improve, right?  I ran across a blog, Blissful and Domestic, a few months ago and was impressed that this family lives on approximately $14,000 a year.  One of the ways they save money is by planning ahead and doing one big grocery shopping trip a month.  I liked the idea of that.

I bet I run to the store several times a week for one item and walk out with $100 of stuff that I didn't know I "needed".   The author of the blog does her meal planning for the month - when I say meal planning, I mean all three meals for each day.  I am not that organized.  I seldom cook with recipes but we tend to eat the same type of meals so I had a fairly good idea of what we would need for the month.

If I were to make an estimate, I would guess that our monthly grocery bill, thanks to needless purchases, run about $600 - $700 or more a month.  I knew that we could eat for much less and I am always interested in feeding my girls food that is healthier and less processed.  So, the first month I focused on not going to the grocery store at all.  For an entire month we ate  what was in the pantry.  By the end of the month I was getting creative but we did it.  This month I sat down and made a shopping list that allowed us to buy groceries for the whole month.  My budget was $400.  I did some research and found out that all kinds of dairy products can be frozen... milk, cheese, cream, butter, etc.  My deep freezer is full of enough dairy products to get us through the month and tons of frozen veggies and meat.  The best part, I am under budget!

I've also started baking a lot of things I would normally have purchased such as bread, granola bars, and any other baked goods.  My first attempt at granola bars weren't great but I'll keep trying.  They turned out way to sweet... so they were a success for the girls but way too much sugar (in my opinion).  I like to bake and doing it myself costs so much less and I know what is going into the food.  That's a win-win situation.

One of the things I am most proud of and has been the most helpful was making my own mixes.  I made a huge batch of pancake mix, brown sugar maple instant oatmeal, and "cream of" dry soup mix. After a few months I think I'll be able to stream line the process even more. I'm not sure but I suspect I over bought for the month.  What do you do to cut your grocery costs? 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Crocus in the Snow

Have you ever stopped and really taken in the beauty of a crocus?  I am always amazed by its strength and beauty.  The gorgeous delicate petals are unbelievably bright and seem so fragile but have an amazing inner strength. They are the first sign of Spring and a new beginning, even when snow is still on the ground.

I have a dear friend who is like the crocus... strong, beautiful and has a gentle soul.  I painted her this painting  to remind her of the times we have spent together.  Kammy is moving to start a new chapter of her life.  I am so proud of her  but I am sad that she is leaving and will miss her.  She has become part of our family. Psalm 16:9

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Singing Forest - recycled pallet painting

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them;
let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.
Let all creation rejoice before the Lord, for He comes,
He comes to judge the earth.  He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his faithfulness.
Psalms 96:11-13
 There is an art show coming up in March and the theme is recycled art.  Recycling is close to my heart.  I feel a deep responsibility to take care of the natural beauty that God created for us.  My heart aches at times when I think about the lack of respect we show the earth and although I frequently fail, I try to avoid the "more" trap.  It doesn't take a ton of energy to recycle or cut down on waste.  Plus, it saves money. I can find an hour a week to take my trash to the recycling center.  
 Gene was sweet enough to scavenge a pallet tossed to the side at one of the construction sights in our neighborhood, tear is down, and put it together as a canvas.  I'm so thankful for his willingness to support my passion.
I had the idea for this painting for several months.  God has gifted me with this ability and my inspirations usually come from my sermon notes during church.  I have a notebook that I take notes in during church.  On the right side of the page is the actual sermon notes and the left side of the page is sketch after sketch of inspiration based on what spoke to me during the service.  It is fun to browse through my notebook.
I tried to incorporate additional materials that would normally end out in the garbage.  The wings of the moth are made from a world map that was heading to the dumpster and the circle of the large flower is made from a scrap of waxed paper.  There are also bits of paper from a credit card mailer worked into the picture.
This was a fun piece to make.  It is definitely different from what I usually do and  I will absolutely do it again.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

How do you carry your Kindle?

I don't have a Kindle but if I did I would absolutely carry mind in one of these cushioned totes.  They are sized to fit a Kindle, or any electronic reader or small iPad, with a sleeve.  My art journal would fit perfectly.  Hmmmm, I may need one for myself.

The bottom carrier is for a boy so of course it needed a drawstring.  I can't decide which one is my favorite but I am leaning towards the pink tote with the grey chevron lining.  Oh ya', I almost forgot... they are also reversible.  Which one is your favorite?