Thursday, February 27, 2014

Thankful Thursday

Today I'm thankful that I had the day off and was able to spend it catching up on things at home. I did a lot of work on "Tuscan Window," as you can see, and I'm happy with the results.   I think it still needs one more thing, and I think I know what I'll add, but I have to learn how to solder first!  You'll have to check back in next week to see what I come up with...

I'm also thankful that spring is only a few weeks away.  We are still having temps in the teens and single digits and it's really starting to wear on us all!  At least there is the hope of warmer temps just around the corner.  We recently got a family health club membership  and that has been a real positive thing.  We get there 2 or 3 times a week and spend some time together exercising.  Afterwards we feel more energized, stronger, and healthier despite the nasty winter weather.  The exercise also helps relieve the SI joint pain I still have, another plus.  This morning, I was particularly thankful for a nice hot shower which also helps ease the stiffness I have after getting out of bed.  Finally, I'm thankful that my husband made it home safe last week after about 10 days away.  It's great to have him back!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Watching Icicles Grow

... and birds eat!

It's another snowy day here and I will probably be spending it indoors doing these quiet, slow types of things - nothing very thrilling, but the perfect time to get them done.  My youngest daughter and I are alone here for the day, keeping ourselves busy.  She's been wanting to redecorate her room, so on Friday, we picked up paint, rollers, stirrers and everything we could need to get the job done.  But FIRST, we need to peel the border off the walls - and I can't think of anything slower, more tedious, or less fun!  We are taking turns and slowly but surely making progress around the room.  Today would be the perfect day to get the majority of it done so maybe we can paint over the coming weekend.

I have been able to slip some creative tasks into the tedium, including putting together this bracelet for a special friend of my daughters' who is celebrating her 16th birthday.  I made only some of these charms and others came by way of a swap last year.  I toyed with adding some color to the black and white theme, or even adding purple accents for her amythest birthstone, but decided sticking with black and white would be best, especially considering the time constraints we were under.  I'm happy with the results, and so was she!

And finally, I've been adding some hand quilting to my "Tuscan Window" piece as you see below.  I decided the small pieces of upholstery fabric would be too delicate to stitch with the machine, so I've been slowly adding detail and security at the same time by hand.  It's almost ready to put in the window-shaped frame and finished, so I can get on to the next project...

How have you been passing the time, this long, cold winter?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day Gratitude

Despite the huge, messy storm yesterday, and my DH being out of town, I'm feeling very thankful today.  For one thing, we never lost power!  The heat is on and we can cook, shower, and flush toilets as usual.  Yay!  I am also feeling very beholden to my next-door-neighbor, Gail, who helped us dig out.  Their snowblower quit, so she borrowed ours and did both driveways with it.  She is an endless source of positive energy and fun, and never lets me down when I need help with something.  I'm so fortunate we ended up neighbors!  Of course, on Valentine's Day, I'm thankful for the loves of my life:  my husband Mark (affectionate, faithful, true), my three daughters (beautiful, talented, each one special in their own way), and our golden retriever, Cassie (ever playful, loyal and affectionate!).

Are you thankful for anything special today?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Mini Virtual Vacation

I hereby interrupt this long, frigid, hellish winter to bring you some images of summers past:

There now, that feels a bit better, doesn't it?  Unfortunately, we now have to return to your regularly scheduled weather...

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Snowed In!

 With 10+ inches of snow on the ground, we finally got a day when we had no choice but to stay home and chill out and it was kind of nice!   Even though our school district's allotted snow days are all officially used up and we've had to dip into our scheduled vacation time, I didn't mind so much today.  We knew last night that the schools and library were closed, so the phones weren't ringing at 5 a.m. and we all slept in, lazed around, and caught up on this and that.

It was the perfect opportunity to put some extra time into my "Tuscan Window"piece and it's coming along!  Today I added some of the details to the foreground, including the house, rock wall, and olive and cyprus trees. I had a nice piece of textured fabric to use for the closest rooftop, but it wasn't a real deep "Siena" color, so I painted it several times with diluted acrylic paint until I got the right shade (you can click on the photo to see it close up).  I also changed the shape of the window from a pointed Gothic style to the rounded baroque style.  I think it's more appropriate for Tuscany.  The next steps will be finishing up the details of the landscape, including some hand stitching, and then creating the surrounding wall and window.  I went through my stash and have some scraps that might work, but nothing large enough to cover the space in one piece.

Since I've got a little experience painting and dyeing fabric, thanks to my FANE group, I thought I might give that a try before I head over to the nearest fabric store, which I won't be able to do for a few days.  I've used onion skins to dye fabric before, and thought that pale yellow-beige might be the color I'm looking for.  So I threw a bunch of the papery skins into a pot with a little water and boiled it for a while.  I also brewed a little strong tea to splash on, to add some browner tones.  I'm letting the fabric sit crumpled like this, so the dye will dry in a random and uneven way, to mimic the plaster walls we saw in Tuscany.  If I need to, I can always add more texture and color with some thinned acrylic paint and a sea sponge.

Finally, I've been enjoying my latest best-seller, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.  I've been reading a lot of YA novels lately, and this story, although an adult book, is about a 13-year-old boy who loses his mother in an explosion and what happens to him in the years following her death.  The writing is very crisp and detailed, and you feel like you're experiencing everything along with the main character, so it's quite absorbing.  I think I'll get back to it...

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Inching Forward

As the winter days slowly progress farther from the new year and closer to midwinter and Valentine's Day, I find my spirits lightening a little.  The days are visibly longer and brighter, and so much warmer (a 40-degree temperature today feels almost balmy in comparison to last week!).  For a pick-me-up, I recently redecorated this mantle shelf in the dining area.  I usually keep everything silver and white for the month of January, but I really needed to see some color, so I moved the kalanchoe plant up there, added the silk Gerber daisies from Michael's Crafts, and tied on my Valentine's Day heart bunting.  It feels like a breath of fresh air!

Here's a close up of two of the other gifts I bought myself last week - the little wire birdcage candle holder, and those sweet little clip-on birds (also from Michael's).  I felt like I needed something cheerful and fun, and they were just the ticket.  I bought a couple in yellow as well and placed them in strategic places around the house where I will see them and remember to think happy thoughts.

Maybe that's what sparked the idea to use up the rest of my silver artclay on these three bird charms.  I used about half the clay on a Christmas gift for my DH, and the package suggests you don't store extra clay too long after the bag is opened.  Even moistened, rewrapped, and double sealed in plastic, the clay was quite dry and took a lot of working to get it smooth again.  It was a bit more difficult to work with than it was in the fall (I think next time I'll buy the slow-drying version).  The birds still turned out pretty well - I had a little trouble getting the wings to look neat because the clay was so dry, but I managed to work them and rework them and file them after the clay was dry to come up with a bird I was satisfied with.  I'll add them to my spring/bird themed charm bracelets.

Finally, I reworked my "architectural elements" project.  In this post, I used a photo of Tuscany which I printed on fabric, but the colors seemed very faded, and I felt more sky needed to be showing if it's a view from a window.  So I decided to use the photo of Tuscany as inspiration, rather than using the actual photo.  I began by painting some sky on plain white fabric and and then fused on the reverse side of several fabrics to look like mountains in the distance.  I'm playing with various prints and upholstery scraps to create a landscape that looks rustic and agricultural, hinting at vineyards, groves of olive trees, and cultivated fields.  I still need to add details like cyprus trees, as well as more things in the foreground, but at least I'm making progress.
What have you been up to?