Monday, April 30, 2012

Recent Projects

I have been trying to stretch myself and dabble in other artistic endeavors that interest me, but are hard.  Like sketching and watercolor.  Strathmore offers free classes, and I'm trying to work on one called Watercolor Sketching with Cathy Johnson.  She makes her techniques look a lot easier than I'm finding them, but it's fun to play with watercolors.  Here's my first two attempts at watercolor sketching.

I'm in awe of people who can just capture a scene in their sketchbooks.  I know it takes practice, practice, practice!

Happy Monday!  Hope it's a great week!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Story of Bravery and Hope

The theme for this week's Beyond Layers class is bravery, and our challenge was to take a photo that expressed bravery to me.  The picture I decided to post brings back a sweet memory of something that happened several years ago, when we lived in a house that was surrounded by majestic, mature trees.  We ended up having squirrels chew into the woodwork of one of our upstairs windows and have raucous parties in our attic.  The parties ended when my husband mounted a live trap outside of the entry point and transported the squirrels to a nearby forest preserve.  When we were sure the squirrels had been evicted, he nailed a piece of wire mesh over the hole until he could make more permanent repairs.  But this was not the end of the story.  A few days later, I heard a commotion outside the same window, and looked out to see a robin perched outside the mesh and poking something in through the small holes.  As I looked closer, I realized that we had inadvertently sealed a nest of baby robins inside the mesh.  Unaware of their potential doom, the mother continued to faithfully feed them day after day.
 Of course, the story ended happily for the robin family.

It reminds me that there is more to my story than I can see with my limited vision.  I might see only an impossible situation and be tempted to give into despair.  But their is a bigger Realm and God is far greater than what I can discern.  To me, bravery is trusting that God holds me in his hands and I can move forward with confidence that he will not leave me imprisoned in my tiny, limited world.

Be brave, my friends!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Storage Solutions

I have too much stuff!  Spring cleaning in my studio has been a long process of deciding what I really need to keep and what I can part with.  And then figuring out the best way to keep the things I need handy.  I work across the street from a Habitat for Humanity ReStore, and every once in awhile I stop in there to see what has been donated.  Saturday I found the perfect little cabinet to store some of the stuff that ends up cluttering my desk. And it was only $8!  Here it is in its original state:
I like the natural wood finish, but I did have some paint left after I redid my studio last year . . . first the basic colors . . .
And then the finishing touches:
And now to begin to clear my messy desk!

I'm thrilled with my cabinet, but the desk still needs a lot of work!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Beyond Layers Play

This is just a quick post since I've been working all afternoon and evening on some new Photoshop techniques for the Beyond Layers class.  I finally managed to process this image in three distinctly different ways and then put them in a storyboard format.  I'm not crazy about the way the storyboard turned out, but that's enough for today!  The flower is a glorious pink chrysanthemum from our anniversary bouquet!
 Have a great week-end!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Hope Springs Eternal

I've checked both hands very carefully, and there is not a bit of green on either thumb.  Yet I keep trying!  I've never been very good at growing tomatoes -- even if I can get a plant to grow, we usually only get one or two ripe tomatoes by the end of the season.  But this year will be the year we have SUCCESS!

Here's my tomato seedlings, outdoors for the first time this season.
 Don't they look happy?!?!
I saved seeds from some heirloom tomatoes we bought at the Farmer's Market last summer.  I planted them and have been carefully tending them for a few weeks -- carrying them from one side of the house to the other to get the best sunlight.  I'm very proud of my little "babies".  I hope I can be as diligent all summer long.  Stay tuned to witness either the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat!

Happy Spring!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

34 Years and Counting

Happy Anniversary to us!  We had a wonderful week-end celebrating (once we got our income taxes done).  Last night we went to dinner and then out to a movie (Blue Like Jazz -- really thought provoking -- well worth watching) with our youngest daughter and her boyfriend.  After the movie, someone was doing a professional-looking fireworks show at the side of the theater parking lot.  And I LOVE fireworks!  (It must have been in honor of our special day.) :-D  The best part is, the fireworks kept setting off several car alarms on the nearby cars.  It was all pretty exciting.

Then we got home and our older daughter and her boyfriend had dropped off the most beautiful bouquet of flowers and a lovely card for us.  I took some pics of just a couple of the blossoms.  (And if anyone can tell me what the coral colored flowers are, I'd would love it.  They are so beautiful!)

I hope your taxes are done (for those in America) and that you are looking forward to a splendid week!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

My Year-Long Challenge

It started a few weeks ago when we received a 30% coupon for our favorite clothing store.  I went twice with various family members, both times just walking around the store feeling frustrated and uninterested.  The coupon expired and I didn't end up getting anything.  An idea that had been in the back of my mind made its way to the surface and I decided to follow up on it:  For 365 days, I am not going to buy any new clothes -- only "pre-worn" stuff.  The only exception is shoes -- I need new running shoes and those have to be new.

With that in mind, my daughter Karissa and I set out for the nearest Goodwill last week.  Double bonus -- we did some spring cleaning and had a trunk-load of our cast-offs to donate.  We had a blast trying outfits on, and both ended up with several items.  Karissa got a several really cute tops, and here's what I brought home:

 A couple of shirts, 3 pairs of shorts and some jeans and capris!  And the most expensive item was a pair of Tommy Hilfiger jeans for $6.99!  I also bought a sweet little hand-thrown pottery bowl for 99 cents that we've been using for holding everything from hard-boiled eggs to lilacs!
 And we are now members of the Club Goodwill!
So far I'm pretty stoked with the possibilities!  And it's not like I have a high-power job where I need to have the latest styles.  Even then, I think maybe I could do it.  I'll keep posting about how I'm doing -- eleven days in so far!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Early Mother's Day

I arrived home from work on Saturday and was a little surprised to find an empty house.  Usually our household is bustling on Saturdays.  After a short while, the family (minus Robyn, who also had to work) pulled up in Jordan's pickup and surprised me with:
A beautiful redbud to plant in our yard!  We chose just the right spot, and started digging.  Skyler didn't help in the digging department at all.  We had a hard time just getting him to stay in the hole long enough to take his picture!
What a wonderful gift!  I'm so excited!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Good Friday -- Pastel play

I always think Good Friday should be a dark, gray day to help us remember the suffering of Jesus on this day.  But today is quite bright and lovely out.  Hopefully Easter will be sunny and warm (but in Chicago you never know).

Our Beyond Layers lesson this week is to play with an image and make it subdued and pastel.  Since I love bright colors, this was a challenge for me.  But I chose a picture I took of some apple blossoms.  Here it is, straight out of the camera:
I like the colors, but decided to try to tone it down for this assignment.  First I cropped it, and then added a bunch of layers, a texture and finally added a frame.  What do you think?  I'm not sure if this was a good image for this assignment.  But it was fun to do.
Looking forward to Resurrection Sunday . . .

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Happy Wednesday!

Yesterday was glorious out, and I had some free time to go to the Arboretum.  The redbuds were breathtaking!  And I had a chance to use the tutorial from Kim Klassen's Beyond Layers class to create frames around my images.  Fun!

After trudging around the Arboretum for an hour, I stopped at the library briefly and ended up locking the keys in my car!  It was only a mile walk home, where I leashed Skyler and called my friend and hiked back to the library to further enjoy the day with my canine companion and walking buddy.  (Today I'm a little tired!)

I also wanted to share a recipe that my daughter pinned  from Pinterest.  It's a bedtime smoothie that is delicious and seems to help both of us sleep better!  It was pinned from this site,  Tart cherry juice is expensive but well worth it!  We double the recipe each night, but instead of adding the cup of soy milk for 2 smoothies, we substitute 1/4 cup of rice milk, since we like it better.
THE SLEEP DOCTOR'S SLEEP SLIM SMOOTHIE (From Dr. Oz) Helps you get to sleep AND keeps your metabolism running all night.Sweet dreams and happy hump day!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Week-end in Review

What a week-end.  Something that we did spur-of-the-moment turned out to be one of the best parts of the week-end, while another thing that I've been planning for weeks was an "epic fail."  First things first:  on Friday evening we were invited to go hear a concert by the band "Gungor".  We had never heard of them, but decided at the last minute if there were tickets available, we'd go.  Wow!  What an incredible concert!  You can check out one of their songs here.  We met up with some friends and had a wonderful time!

Saturday was the craft fair that I've been working on for weeks.  I've never done anything like it before, but thought I would give it a try since it was at my church and quite inexpensive.  I was off work all week (spring break), so I worked hard to get everything all ready.  Here's a couple of pics of my stuff:

It was mostly cards, with a few signs and bookmarks -- nothing over $8.00.  I figured they would appeal to just about anyone.  So, long story short, I sold 5 cards and 2 bookmarks.  My net income was a grand total of $3.00.  And that's not counting my time and materials.  (Although most of the stuff I already had in my stash).  But I did learn a few things -- the main one is that I am NOT wired to sell.  The craft fair circuit is not for me.  I'll just have to bless my friends with cards, book marks and signs.

Today we celebrated my husband's birthday.  The whole family came over with significant others.  We dyed Easter eggs, ate spaghetti and tried to take a group shot of us all jumping.  It's a lot harder than it looks!

 It was easier just to be goofy:
All in all, it was a great week-end.  Hope yours was as well!