Thursday, July 31, 2008

Preparing for a party

Our younger son is in the process of buying his first home. He is waiting to hear when the closing will be, and we know it will be within three weeks. My husband and I are hosting a surprise party for him next Friday. He knows we are having a party, but he thinks we are celebrating his uncle's birthday. Arrival of relatives won't surprise him, but when his friends and our neighbors show up, we'll watch his reaction and then tell him that the surprise is on him. Guests are bringing him things that every house needs from paper towels to sugar, and from screwdrivers to pizza coupons.

The house he is buying is in excellent shape, but we all know that there are unexpected expenses when you move in, especially when it is the first time on your own. Remember the movie The Money Pit with Tim Allen? That phrase has been on my mind as I listen to all he would like to do to his house. With that in mind, I created these wrappers for Hershey Nugget candies.

I found the image of the house sucking up money online, rotated the image, added his name and the words "Money Pit", then pasted it in the middle of an Avery #8160 mailing label. It is the perfect size to wrap around a Nugget candy.

There will be a bowl of these on the table at the party for everyone. I will definitely use this idea again, especially since I have a whole package of labels!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Ahhhh, baby sweaters

People think I am a sucker for babies because I love to knit baby sweaters and make baby quilts. I just like them because they are quicker to make.
Ok, that isn't the complete truth. I am a sucker for babies.

One of my friends will soon become a grandmother again. The baby will be a first child (a daughter) for this son and daughter-in-law. I made this sweater and have another one planned that will be toddler sized.

The yarn is Oh My! by Plymouth Yarn and is ever so soft. I went to my favorite yarn shop, Indigo Rose in Sterling Heights, Michigan, to buy yarn for one sweater. I came home with yarn for three of them. This is the story of my life and explains why my sewing/craft room is bursting at the seams.

I have one more watercolor class in this series of classes. As much as I am enjoying them, I may skip the series that begins in September and resume after the first of the year. September is always a busy month and the holidays arrive earlier each year. Don't tell me it is an age thing....I know someone is playing with the calendar! Every year I have good intentions of being organized like my friend Peggy who starts Christmas projects in January. I really tried that this year. I made three ornaments before mid-February. The other nine sit neglected and are losing hope of being completed this year. My project priorities are forever shifting, but I do well against deadlines. For instance, I finished my watercolor homework for this Tuesday's class last night because I know the rest of the weekend is going to be busy. This painting is better than my worst, and worse than my best.

The girl's dress and hat have a black heart and a yellow checked heart appliqu├ęd on them, along with the flower and bee on her bodice. Even though the placement of her hand is accurate per the photograph we worked from in class, I think the black heart on her dress is confusing to the viewer. Her eyes were very dark, but I think the ones I painted look ominous. Maybe I'll try this one again with darker values throughout the painting or with lighter eyes. Or maybe I'll get going on those Christmas ornaments.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Cake Wrecks blog

Please check out the blog called Cake Wrecks in the list over there on the right under Favorite Blogs ---------->

It is amazing what some people find attractive in a cake. It is appalling that professional bakeries don't double check spelling and punctuation, or in one case, the ability to differentiate instructions from the intended greeting. The older posts are only two more pages. I'd hate for you to miss any of the groans or giggles.

Monday, July 21, 2008

At long last, the sweater is done!

Doesn't everyone need a warm sweater in hot, hazy July?

My goal was to have it done months ago, but once I started watercolor classes, my other projects went on a back burner, a back burner on a stove in another city.

The sweater is for one of my sons. The color is great on him. The sweater is very casual with a wide neckline that rolls instead of having a ribbed band. The smaller picture is from the instructions. The pattern is called Cobblestone Pullover from Interweave Press. The yarn is Swish Superwash, a washable wool from Knit Picks. It feels wonderful. This color is lemongrass heather.

My next knitting projects are baby sweaters. They should fly off the needles after making a man's sweater!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

More hobbies than cents (or sense)

My life would be much more organized if I had only one or two hobbies, but that isn't the case and I couldn't make a choice if I had to give one up. I am proud of myself for avoiding new ones, such as clay, even though I know it would be fun.

Yesterday's watercolor is an homage to my various hobbies. I plan to do it again at a later date, either as an actual collage, or with a collage feel to it. For now, here is More hobbies than cents:

I've included paint brushes, tubes of paint, paper, an eraser to represent watercolor painting; Perle cotton, embroidery floss, thread, buttons, fabric, scissors and a pin cushion to represent sewing, embroidery and quilting; yarn, knitting needles and a crochet hook for knitting and crochet; beads and needle nose pliers for beading; crayons, markers, colored paper, glue, glitter paint, rubber stamps and a completed card for card making and scrapbooks; and a camera, novels and a computer mouse, all of them being self-explanatory.

That was really fun for me to do, probably because each item means something to me. I've noticed I have a harder time painting something that isn't really interesting to me. On one hand, it is good to try everything and learn in the process, but it is also true that life is too short to struggle with a subject that holds no interest. We each already have plenty of things we have to do, why should a hobby add to that list?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


The Stay-Puff Marshmallow Man is my twin brother. I am not embarrassed by this. It just means that I am soft, sweet and very white unless I am red in the face from exertion.

I recently bought a pair of the Target equivalent of Spanx, a long leg (above the knee) contraption to smooth out flab.

It was warm Saturday. I proceeded to pull up the Spanx wannabe to mid thigh without breaking a sweat. Going the rest of the way was another story. Being right handed, I apparently pulled harder with my right hand than my left, resulting in the seam from the crotch to the waistband skewing to side. By the time I took care of this, I was beginning to glisten, and not in a good way.

I put my dress on and thought the Spanx-wannabe did an ok job but it wasn't exactly the miracle that TV and print ads promise from similar products. It was much more comfortable than an old fashion girdle, not bothering me in the leg at all. My dress was dark and I had hoped to get by without a slip since it was opaque. I am assuming most of you are old enough to remember slips.

Standing up was fine. I sat down to buckle a shoe and stood back up and discovered that the knit dress and knit Spanx-ette had formed an unattractive bond. My butt looked like a topographical display of an inner city freeway exchange. Darn. I added a slip. Better, but definitely warmer.

Sitting down again to fuss with my hair and makeup, I looked down as far as my mirrored image allowed. Uh-oh.......Those darn print and TV ads always show the before and after photos of a model STANDING. You know why? When you compress your marshmallowness, it has to go somewhere. I should have bought the Spanx-ette that went up to the band of my bra so that my boobs could have gone up a few sizes. Instead I had a jelly roll that was not attractive when seated.

Off came the wannabe, off came the slip, and off I went to the graduation party wearing regular ole panties that have a silky finish that allowed the dress to swish around my ampleness. The red in my face dissipated by the time we reached the party.

On the way home, my sweet husband told me that I was aging well. Stay Puff people don't have wrinkled faces. Good thing he likes sweets, isn't it? wink.gif

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Ta-da! Third painting done!

I could have taken the easy route and submitted the Native American woman, but that was a class project and not original art. There are no rules about not doing that in a student exhibit, but I knew I would feel better if I came up with something new.

This is my house, done with a fine tip waterproof marker (Pigma Micron) and watercolor. One reason for choosing this is that it is very different from each of the other entries. We don't live in the middle of nowhere where the sky blends into the lawn. I am just giving my neighbors their privacy. Also, it made for an easier painting.

The entry form has been completed and mailed which means I should probably try cooking again tomorrow. My poor husband suffers for my art.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Two paintings for the exhibit

Now that I've committed to entering the student exhibit next month, I am excited. Nerves will probably alternate with the good excitement, but today, just the good is flowing.

Titles and framed dimensions have to be turned in by Thursday so a trip to Michaels for frames was in order after today's class. This painting is called Waiting for Cake. The subject is the daughter of one of our nieces on her sixth birthday.

The next one is Sunflowers on Yupo. Yupo is a plastic painting surface. Using watercolors on it is very different than using them on watercolor paper. Plastic is not absorbent, so the paint puddles and runs in ways totally unlike what happens on paper.

I have something in mind for a third entry, but whether or not I can get my vision on paper remains to be seen. If I am not happy with this yet to be started picture, the native American woman will become my last entry. I'd like the third painting to be as different from each of these as possible.

Delaying my demise

I must believe, subconsciously, that I won't leave this earth as long as I have projects left to finish and yet to even begin. Given the size of my stashes of fabric, yarn, scrapbooking paper & embellishments, and painting supplies, I should be around for another 50 years, give or take a decade.

God bless my husband who doesn't even roll his eyeballs anymore. He dropped me off at a bookstore where I had hoped to find a certain magazine before heading out of town for a long weekend. When I came back to the car with a bag he asked if I had found the magazine., but look at this one!

This is a British publication from Simply Knitting. Everything in here is so darn cute! Did I need this from a practical point of view? Of course not, but whoever put practical and my name in the same sentence?

Laughter is good for the soul and I had a healthy dose of laughter reading Janet Evanovich's latest Stephanie Plum novel this past weekend. I literally laughed out loud at some of the antics of Stephanie and her friend Lula.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Old and new friends

I am so happy to say hello to old ageless friends because of blogs!

Not long ago, I would have never guessed I would be blogging. Reading my friend Andrea's blog led me to search for a few friends that I hadn't heard from in ages. One is MizSmoochieLips who was a very active blogger and swapper until she mysteriously disappeared. I got brave (just plain curious) one weekend and played around with setting up my own blog. The first version was pathetic. A fly died on my monitor, it was so dull!

It felt a little vain to try this again, but I realized that vain or not, showing my friends what I am working on and sharing a laugh or two is what I do all the time in my daily life, so why not here too? Besides, here you have the luxury of not opening the blog. In real life, I can see you crouching behind the chair, pretending you aren't home when I show up at your door!

As the saying goes, new friends are silver, and I am happy to make new ones in the blogging world. For my old ageless friends who are gold, I am very happy to
see you again! Silver and gold are precious commodities, both in metals and in friends.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Stetching the comfort zone

Living within your comfort zone is, well, comfortable. There is assurance in the sameness of days enjoyed doing the mundane chores of daily living and spending your leisure time doing things that bring you joy. But every once in a while, it is a good idea to shake things up. Prove to yourself that you aren't in a rut, that an old dog can learn new tricks, or that the worst that can happen if you stretch yourself is that you'll spring back to where you were with a new perspective.

At the ripe old age of 39, ok 47, all right! all right! 55 (and a half ), I will be entering one to three watercolors in a student art show. I am excited and nervous at the same time, like losing your virginity but announcing it in advance and having spectators there when it happens.

The exhibit will run August 17-26, with a premiere the afternoon of the 17th. I have never done something like this, and never thought I would. This may eventually become a "been there, done that" event, or maybe it will give me a reason to wear a beret, call myself an ar-teest, and tell my family I can't possibly cook dinner because my muse is calling.