Thursday, June 30, 2011

County Fair

There's something wonderful about the county fair, especially all the lights from the rides.  It just immediately conjures up visions of my childhood.  Recently I took my son since we go every year without fail.  This year though, I decided to snap some shots of the fair itself and not just my son and his pals in action. 

Have a peek...

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Easy Summer Tote Bag Tutorial

I was perusing thru my daily rotation of blogs the other day when I came across a tutorial on my (current) FAVORITE blog...and artist for that matter.  I just LOVE the work of  Alisa Burke and find her style so refreshing!  Her painted canvas art reminds me a lot of Traci Bautista's style, just a bit more refined, which I prefer. 

Anyway, Alisa's tutorial explained how to alter an inexpensive wicker tote which you can find in the dollar section at Target.  Looked super simple and cute, so I went for it.  I loosely used her design and ended up making quite a few changes along the way as you will notice when comparing the step by step photos to the end product;  in the end, I went with a round handle and decided to cut the wicker straps all the way off and use some denim to tie the bag's components together, given that I'd used denim in the flower. 

The best part about this cute tote is the fact that the end investment was less than $8.  ($2.50 bag, $5.00 handle. I already had the cloth from a previous project.)  Now you can't beat that!

Start with a plain tote from the dollar section at Target.

Pick out some fabric and a handle.

Cut off the existing handles.
  This is where I came back later and cut them all the way off. 
 You could use the existing wicker stubs to connect your handle to the bag though.

Sew your pedals to some backing of your choice (if you want).  I chose denim.
 Make some designs in the fabric with a complimentary thread color. 

Attach the straps (which I also decorated with machine stitching) and pedals using a glue gun and add a button for the center of the flower.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Time Comes...

when one is ready.  (Carl Jung)

You just gotta have faith!  I have had this play out in my life over and over.  Hoping and expecting a certain something to happen (or not happen) only to have it never materialize...or materialize when I didn't want it to. The questionning.  The tears.  Then suddenly years, months, weeks later...

it all becomes clear. 

Things don't always turn out the way we want them to, when we want them to.  But, I have found, more often than not (sans death, divorce and that really icky stuff), "everything happens for a reason"...we just don't always see that reason at the time.

Exhibit A:
A few years ago I was laid off from my job (the place I have since been re-hired at) after 10 years of hard work.  I was (as was my entire staff) the product of the company going public and needing to re-organize.  I got that...but it didn't make it any easier to swallow.  The one saving grace was, they paid me generously to leave.  STILL, I was scared out of my mind.  I couldn't stop worrying.   How would I make the mortgage payment when the money ran out?  How would I support my son? On and on.  Plus, I'm a worrier by nature...a bit of a "Woody-Allen- neurotic". 

Luckily, after 1 year and 4 months of searching for a job (and about 130 resume submissions later)  I was hired back.  Bridged in to all of my retirement, vacation, etc.  What a blessing.

Okay, to the "everything happens for a reason" part.  Where was the silver lining in all of this?  Oh, there is a lot of silver lining...a big shiny silver lining!!!

I WAS a devout corporate woman.  It was all I thought about.  Work.  I traveled for business constantly and I loved it.  Tucked my son into bed via phone more times than I can count and didn't feel guilty about it one bit.  My personal life came second to work. 

Being laid off gave me the opportunity to do some serious soul searching (as painful as it was) and find a new perspective.  My life was seriously out of whack, as were my priorities.  Now, my personal life comes first.  And I mean FIRST!  My job is much lower on the list.  It's just a job to me now.  It no longer defines me.  Don't get me wrong, I love working and doing what I do and I still work just as hard...but I do it to make money to enhance the rest of my life and that's the bottom line.  Period. 

"Everything happens for a reason".  Being laid off was a hard lesson for me - but one I needed to be slapped in the head with.  It forced me to wake up and get my priorities in check before I would be faced with years of regret. 

In the end, it was a gift.  I was given the paid opportunity to get my mental and emotional act together and I did.  I'm thankful. 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Foodie Friday and the Appetizer Queen

I know it isn't Friday, but I was in the mood to post about appetizers.  I'm in the "party" spirit because I am visiting extended family today in the wine country (Sonoma/Napa Valley) and have been assigned the task of bringing appetizers and wine. 

I guess I'm officially the "appetizer queen" for family functions because everyone always asks me to bring them.  OR, maybe everything else I make is not so good!  ;-)  Either way, today I am making my Pesto & Sundried Tomato Tarts that I've been making FOREVER!  I think my pre-adult nephews will come unglued if I don't bring them (so their mother says!).  And, I'm also making a recipe that I just began making this year that has been a big hit.  I got this recipe from my boss.  She brought them for a work function and everyone raved. 

I won't give you the exact recipe (because I don't use it anymore), since no matter what you do, I don't think you can mess these up. 

Southern Living Meatballs

1 bag of frozen meatballs of your choice.  (I have found Smart & Finals small frozen meatballs to be the best - we did a taste test one day.  Costco meatballs are second runner up.)
1 regular size jar of sour cherry jam/preserves.
1 large bottle of your favorite bbq sauce
2 whole chipotle peppers (the ones in the can in sauce)
3 tablespoons of the chipotle pepper sauce

Simmer all the ingredients in a pot until meatballs are no longer frozen and the ingredients have melded together.  Serve in small crock pot or chaffing dish to keep warm. 


Friday, June 24, 2011

The Secret Garden & The Lagoon

I work in the most ultra corporate environment EVER!  And, frankly it gets to me at times.  So what's a girl to do to find release from the hum-drum of the corporate stiffs?

Take a walk!

I often take walks on my lunch break at work.  Luckily, the campus is situated in a lovely area surrounded by a lagoon and a place I call "the secret garden".  I call it the secret garden because after you go thru a round-a-bout at the base of a huge tower you end up in an unexpected beautiful garden...walk a bit further and you wind up at the base of the lagoon.  The lagoon is actually a part of the SF Bay.  Landfill was placed in the bay to make little coves to build houses...

Here's a little tour...

 The "Tower Building

Round-a-bout at the base of the Tower Building

The "Secret Garden" on the way to the Lagoon

 The Lagoon

 Named after Congressman  Leo Ryan who was gunned down in Guyana by members of  the People's Temple in 1978.  I remember this story like it was yesterday! 

What ever happened to being able to feed the birds?  When I was a kid that's what we did with our stale bread.  Boy, times have changed! 

I always admire a place that includes a piece of art mixed in with nature.  Cheers to the developers of Leo J. Ryan Park for including a nod to the arts.

The multi-million (and I mean multi-million) dollar fountain in front of my offices that works about 30% of the time.  What to waste money!

So there you have it.  My medicine for a stressful day on the job!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Let Me Fly...

Let me be who I want to be! 

I have noticed a pattern emerging lately with some of the pieces I have created...and that's the use of birds and butterflies.  While I know they are used a lot in art journaling, I believe there is greater meaning to the reason they keep appearing for me.

When I was a little girl I dreamt of being a gypsy.  Not just casual dreaming...but SERIOUS anticipation of growing older and living out of a suitcase and wandering the country. I was even one for Halloween several years in a row (here's to roll playing!)  For some reason the thought of being free enough to travel the country and relocate upon a whim was so appealing to me.  In reality though, I consider myself ultra-responsible and that way of life has never been feasible for me. 

Digging deeper, I believe it's the freedom and independence piece that has always resonated with me.  Those qualities of life were the basis for my daydreaming of "gypsy-hood".  In hindsight, being free to speak my mind, support myself and building a life where I don't have to depend on someone else to stay afloat has always been my goal.  My mom used to say when I was a kid that I was 4 going on 40.  I think my parents hated the fact that I was so outspoken and independent.  It certainly made their job so much harder. Either way, that independent spirit remains at my core...

Just let me fly and be who I want to be!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

How To Be Alone

I fell upon something absolutely beautiful today...

A video on the front page over at Milliande entitled How To Be Alone.  The title alone (okay, no pun intended) really intrigued me.  A how-to video about something so human and basic...yet so scary and misunderstood by so many.  This video touched my soul so much I just had to share.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

I guess the video really touched me because, like many people, there was a time in my life not so many years ago that being "alone" was a scary proposition.  Somehow life experiences changed all that.  Some experiences painful (divorce & death) & some good (traveling to new and exciting places...meeting new people).  I love and relish my alone time now, but it has taken me years to feel at peace with myself.  I know many people who don't like being alone at all.

I consider it a gift I give myself...

I find that I do my best thinking when I'm alone.  Being alone has taught me a lot about myself (the good, the bad and the ugly!) and for that I am forever grateful.  Unfortunately, as the video mentions, society looks down on the "alones".  Seems this world, or rather, the people in it project their own fears on be coupled up and with others at all times. 


I say being alone is so very under-rated.  If you are scared to be alone, just take a few small steps (as the video mentions) and eventually you'll get the hang of it.  Like anything else, believe it or not, it takes practice. Be careful though, you might like it so much, you may want to be alone too much.

Life is about balance, right?  Now that's a lesson, for another day...

Displaying Masterpieces

I was in Pier One the other day and saw something that I got really excited about it.  I wasn't excited about it for it's intended function...rather, what I could use it for.

This iron wall hanging is meant to be used to display snapshots/photos.  But in my mind it's the perfect way to display some of the wonderful pieces of art I have received from all over the world.  I used to have the ATC's in an album...but really, what fun is that?  I want to enjoy these little cards, not collect them.  My plan is to change out the ATC's from time to time since they all won't fit on here at once.

I truly have art surrounding me in my art space!  Lucky me, lucky me!   

Clearly I need to do less art and more cleaning...check out that whopping cobweb in the first photo.  See if you can find it.  WOW!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Loud Larry and a Genie

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago (WOW!  It's been a while since I posted!), I recently took over hosting a monthly Art Journal Swap over at Milliande.  The 2 prompts for this month are:

7 Deadly Sins & Genie In A Bottle (if I had one wish...)  I FINALLY got-ta-crackin' on my pages and finished them this weekend.  I've been so tied up with school ending and summer activities with my son, I really haven't had much time for me...but all that is going to change as we settle into our summer routine.  And, to make art-making easier, I installed a work table in my art space just for him.  Hey, a girl's gotta do, what a girl's gotta do!!!

I'm happy to say that I'M BACK!....and ready to resume posting (or at least really try to!) on a regular basis.  Sorry for my absence. 

Here are my pages for this month's swap.  I REALLY got into them both for very different reasons...

First, "7 Deadly Sins"...

There is one thing I CANNOT stand in people (above most other "sins", especially now-a-days) and that is GREED!  So, I chose to base my page on Loud Larry (rubber stamp) as a greedy banker.  Doesn't he just look like a greedy executive obnoxiously trying to talk his way out of hell?

Oh, how versatile old Loud Larry is!  A few weeks ago he played the victim in an ATC swap entitled "Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil"...and this week, he is the EVIL-DO-ER. 

Next is "Genie in a Bottle (if I had one wish)..."   This page is dedicated to my mom.  Oh how I miss her sooooo much!  It brings tears to my eyes just thinking it.  If I had one wish, it would be just to have one more day with her.  We had so much fun together as I got older (and really began to appreciate her).  She was one fun, spunky & wonderful lady!   Your quintessential Italian mother...although she had a June Cleaver side to her too, which made things extra interesting...sorta evened out her naughty side...the side I so graciously inherited from good ol' mom!

Here's to you mom...I will see you again for that "one more day", someday.  xo

Friday, June 10, 2011

Another Bargain SCORE!

I almost forgot to mention!  While I was at The Dollar Tree today picking up more erasers, I ran across these Bingo Markers.  Perfect for art journaling!!!  SCORE! 

I'm starting to be quite the fan of The Dollar Tree for bargain art supplies...not like I really need any more or creative friends would agree though, that you can never have too many art supplies! 

Guilty as charged!  


From This to That

From THIS...

So I've been working diligently (actually the last few hours) since I purchased my BIG HONKIN' ERASERS on Wednesday!  I seriously think I have acquired a new addiction...rubber stamp carving.  It's so relaxing and gratifying.  I really like how it doesn't take long to carve a stamp.  These erasers carve and cut like butter.  It's so fun!

Drawings ready to be transfered to the erasers.

Transfered and then colored in with permanent marker.  This image was taken from Misty Mawn's new book Unfurling. 

First one done!

My favorite black ink pad is dying (probably because I dried it out today by leaving it wide open for so long!) so the images aren't as juicy as I'd like them but you'll still get the idea...

P.S.  I'm so addicted now, I went back and bought some more erasers today.  YES!!!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Secrets of Adulthood - Part II - Adult Truths

Yesterday there was a post entitled "Secrets of Adulthood" that I pulled off of a really cool website entitled The Happiness Project.  Coincidentally, today I received an email entitled  "Adult Truths".  Is the universe trying to tell me something?  Maybe that I'm not as young as I like to think I am?

My best friend Stacy, of almost 35 years...yep 35 YEARS...emailed it to me this morning.  I sure hope if something happens to me that she takes care of item #1 PRONTO...also, please burn those journals I wrote when I was in my early (out of control) 20's.  Never mind...I know you all too well, you will read them first.  Although 90% of the mayhem you were a part of. 

Note to Self:  Burn journals.  Before doing so, read them for a good laugh...and a good cry too!

Adult Truths
  • I think part of a best friend's job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die.
  • I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger.
  • Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.
  • Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, finding their cell phone, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey - but I bet everyone can find and push the snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time, every time.
  • There is great need for a sarcasm font.
  • Nobody really knows how to fold a fitted sheet!
  • Learning cursive was not really necessary.
  • MapQuest really needs to start their directions on #5. I'm pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.
  • Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.
  • Bad decisions make good stories.
  • You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren't going to do anything productive for the rest of the day.
  • I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my twenty-page report that I swear I did not make any changes to.
  • I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.
  • I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller Lite than Kay.
  • I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.
  • Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants never get dirty and you can wear them forever.
  • Sometimes I'll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not know what time it is.
  • The first testicular guard, the "Cup," was used in Hockey in 1874 and the first helmet was used in 1974. That means it only took 100 years for men to realize that their brain is also important.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

For Big HAPPY Mistakes

Look what I found tonight at The Dollar Tree?  A pile of monster erasers!  These erasers are HUGE.  6 inches long x 2 inches wide and almost 1 inch thick.  Just check out how big they look next to their standard counterparts. 

At this point, I'm sure you are saying to yourself  "so what, do you really need 10 monster size erasers?"  Well, when I explain my plans for them, you might be excited too!

I plan on using them to make my own rubber stamps. I've peaked your interest, haven't I?

Each BIG eraser was a buck.  The smaller ones were a buck for a package of 6.  I spent $12 to make at least 22 hand carved stamps.  BARGAIN compared to how much the rubber stamp tiles cost at Michaels.  I believe I bought one once and it was $6 bucks!

I bet you are saying to yourself now "I gotta go check out The Dollar Tree".  Caught you!  Truth is, I went there searching for these.  I heard from a friend that they carry these huge erasers from time to time, but I haven't seen them since I started looking a few months ago.  Until tonight!

I'll be posting my rubber stamps soon, so stay tuned!

The Happiness Project

As with most people, I spend my fair share of time surfing blogs and websites.  Most sites I run across are good...but today, I ran across a site called The Happiness Project  that I REALLY like...and more importantly a post, that I loved.

Turns out, every Wednesday is "Tip Day".  Today the tip was "7 Tips for Minding Your Own Business" which contained some great advice.  However, I find this previous tip day post, "Secrets of Adulthood" to be more intriguing.  Most of what this site has to offer is pretty straight forward - but, tips we often forget, which is key.  I will be visiting this site often. 

Gretchen Rubin ~
Here are my "Secrets of Adulthood". Although these items may not seem particularly profound, each one was a revelation when I finally figured it out:
  • The days are long, but the years are short.
  • Someplace, keep an empty shelf.
  • Turning the computer on and off a few times often fixes a glitch.
  • It's okay to ask for help.
  • You can choose what you do; you can't choose what you LIKE to do.
  • Happiness doesn't always make you feel happy.
  • What you do EVERY DAY matters more than what you do ONCE IN A WHILE.
  • You don't have to be good at everything.
  • Soap and water removes most stains.
  • It's important to be nice to EVERYONE.
  • You know as much as most people.
  • Over-the-counter medicines are very effective.
  • Eat better, eat less, exercise more.
  • What's fun for other people may not be fun for you -- and vice versa.
  • People actually prefer that you buy wedding gifts off their registry.
  • If you're not failing, you're not trying hard enough.
  • No deposit, no return.
I must admit to removing a few tips that I didn't necessarily agree with.  And, I resisted the temptation to add a few of my own to keep the post authentic.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Santa Amazon Came Today!

Yaaaaay!  I got home from work to find a welcome surprise waiting on my doorstep.  The books I ordered from Amazon have arrived.   Oh yes!

I'm SUPER excited about the Scott Weiland Memoir - "Not Dead and Not For Sale".  I have been waiting for it to be published for some time now.  Oh, how I love that man!  For those of you who don't know who he is, he was (and is again, since the band just reunited), the lead singer of Stone Temple Pilots.  For a couple of years he was also the lead singer of Velvet Revolver.  My God, the man is hot!  Not a very good shot of him on the cover though.  Much too skinny for my liking.  He looks better with some meat on his bones!  Sadly, he has a reputation for being a bit of a drug abuser and sometimes it shows..this is one of those times, I think.  Anyway, enough of that.

I also ordered Misty Mawn's new book Unfurling (love her work!) and a surface techniques book that I cannot wait to dig into and test out.

But first, I must grab my glass of vino and read up on the hottest man on earth!

Couldn't help but add some other pictures of Mr. Weiland.  One of the things that I admire about him is his love of fashion.  I'm NOT referring to the typical rocker-type fashion.  I'm referring to fine clothing; beautifully tailored suits and old school fidora's (not today's poser fidora's), for example.  The man has a sense of style that's untouchable!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Swap Scoop

So much happens over at Milliande it's sometimes hard to keep up!  That must be pretty obvious by now since many of my posts are about a Milliande swap of some sort...

In January of this year I started participating in the monthly Art Journal Page Swap at Milliande.  The participants create 2 - 5x7 inch art journal pages based on prompts provided by the hostess (at the time it was Nina) and then send the pages to their swap partner at the end of the month (different swap partner  randomly assigned every month).

Last month Nina announced that she was no longer going to be hosting the swap.   She had hosted the swap since it started over a year ago so it's understandable that she wanted to move on.  BUT, I WAS BUMMED!  I so anticipated collecting a beautiful array of art journal pages from different participants all over the world!  And, Nina did such a great job of hosting the swap.  I visualized one day being able to bind all of the pages together into a beautiful Art Journal.  With the news of her resigning, my plans were squashed.  In my mind, I was just getting started.  Then, it dawned on me...why don't I volunteer to host?!  I'm really glad I did.  I've become so fond of creating and receiving those 5x7 journal pages.  I just couldn't let the swap die.

This is my first month hosting and I decided to go a bit morbid with one of the prompts.  Turns out that I received positive feedback as a result.  Seems some of the ladies prefer to create darker pages as opposed to "cutesy" pages.
  • Seven Deadly Sins (choose one sin) - Pride, Envy, Gluttony, Lust, Anger, Greed, Sloth.  This is a good site for more info on each of the 7 Deadly Sins  including symbols & colors for each "sin".
  • Genie in a Bottle - If I had one wish it would be...
I look forward to  posting some of the finished pages here...with approval from the artists of course.  If you want to join in, go to Milliande/Sub Groups/Art Swaps and look for the monthly Art Journal Swap.  If Art Journals don't float your boat, there are always a few other swaps going on to choose from. 

Check it out, you'll be glad you did!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil

Monika over at Milliande is hosting an ATC Swap entitled "Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil".  I immediately began visualizing gravestones, dead gardens and crows for this prompt.  Unfortunately, given the small size of an ATC (2 1/2 inches x 3 1/2 inches), it's really hard to build an entire scene with all that I visualized.  So, I settled on Loud Larry (the actual name of the man-stamp that I used) yelling help and built my spooky garden around him. 

My son got a kick out of this ATC...he was cracking up over "Loud Larry". 

Friday, June 3, 2011

Mission Accomplished!

It's a really good thing that I finished painting the box today (that I posted about 2 days ago) because I was pretty close to aborting the mission.  As mentioned in that previous post, too much time on one project causes me to get antsy and lose interest.  I've tracked myself and I'm good for about 1 week on a project.  I admittedly have a slight (probably a lot more than slight) case of ADD...and the constant flow of caffeine in my veins doesn't help I'm sure.  It's really amazing that I'm a Project Manager in my real life.  How I don't abandon long term projects that I manage is pretty impressive given my self diagnosis. I guess because it's my livelihood, I just have learned to "suck it up".  Gotta pay for all of my art supplies somehow...forget the house's the art supplies I'm concerned about!  LOL.  You creative types know what I mean!

Anyway, here's the finished box.  I got to a mid stage with it today where I HATED IT and was ready to take a hammer to it (not really, but I like the way that sounds - very dramatic).  Somewhere between the crackle paint, sandpaper and walnut ink I seriously thought I was going to trash the project.  Then I kept at it and now I like the end result.  At first it got too muddy and the entire design disappeared into the background.  Luckily I was able to bring back only certain parts, like the tree of life and it's vines, so it all worked out for the best.  Now it's officially done and ready to be used in my art space.  Form and function...gotta love it!

These pictures really don't do it justice since you can't see it's sheen.  I also used some Perfect Pearls sprays which added that sheen.  Oh, and I also glazed it with some of Tracy Bautista's Collage Pauge with Sparkles.  Love that stuff!