Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays and best wishes in the New Year!

Merry Christmas, Joyeux Noel and blessings this Winter Soltice!  Dear creative kindred spirits I wish you all a plethora of creative opportunities in the new year!  I am happy to say that I have begun my efforts to develop a more creative habit of mind than I have currently.  I pushed myself to enter a painting in a show through the Berkeley Art Center.  BAC had a call for entries for their winter show and a friend sent me the announcement.   I just felt it was the writing on the wall to get out there and show my work.  In the flurry of trying to get the piece framed and delivered to the curators, I forgot to take a picture of it.  Silly me!  In anycase, I am proud of my effort. 

The wreath above is one of the creative efforts I made for the holidays.  I use to go into a Martha Stewart mode and decorate, bake and make for many years but my job in the last 5 years took all the joy out of my spirit and I haven't done anything for years.  This year was different.  With a job change, I was able to release the bad karma of the last job and take on one that gave me a sense of Joy and freedom that I use to know.  So, with that said, I have been crafting, baking and making again.  What JOY! 

So, to 2012 I look forward to continue what I started this holiday.  Year round crafting, painting, sewing, baking and making.  My heart is full.  Best wishes to you all and your families.  Cheers.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The colors of Winter

In the spirit of the holiday season I have been indulging in making decorations for the house.  For the past 8 years I have been sleep walking through my life and have not felt anchored in what makes my heart sing and dance.  In 2011, a change in my job situation has enabled me to clear the cobwebs in my heart and I can breath again.  Essentially I lost my job but gained a new one in which I am paid a bit less but I have more personal freedom and time.  As I adjusted to the new job this past fall, I was looking for something creative to do but was 'creatively blocked'.  Reading my favorite magazines, I found repeatedly artists talking about being blocked and they would say - 'When blocked, just do something!  Anything!'  So, I did.  I created a mood board.  I showed it in my last post:

The board is in my kitchen and is a cork board with a frame that I covered in an oatmeal colored linen.  I use silk pins to pin up the images and papers to create a temporary collage that symbolizes the season.  I enjoyed that so much that I've decided to do one for each season and regularly change it to satisfy my creative moods and decorate my house. 

My holiday decorations are focused on red and white as a theme.  Does my theme change every year?  Yes, it seems every year.  I don't do a 'tree' so I make it up with lots of garlands, wreaths, flowers and all.  For some reason red and white resonated with me, this year, and I have followed theme.  As my house is evolving into a space that has black and white furniture, and accents that are black, white, red and burlap beige I decided that I would make my winter mood board around those colors. Here is the result:
The whole board complete.




What I like most about doing these temporary collages is it allows me to play with images, colors and textures without worrying about permanency.  Art on a whim, then living with it and tweaking it and just enjoying the process of playing.  A lot of the images are from my favorite magazines like Marie Claire Idees (France), Country Living (British), and Somerset Life (US). Other images are from Christmas cards from years past including some I collected at flea markets from the 1930's.

I hope to share some of my new holiday decorations. I made two, three!  I made one for the front door and I have made two more to hang inside the house in various places.  So, more posts to come, stay tuned!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Art Every Day Challenge...challenging...

At Creative Every Day,, Leah has continued her November challenge to do art everyday.  She never waivers from supporting us in doing what we can, when we can and share. Though I  struggle with getting something 'arty' in everyday, I did come up with a autumnal collage for my kitchen.

I have a linen covered mood board that I have used to pin up images for redecorating my house.  I took those down and have begun a journal of ideas.  The blank linen has been staring at me for a while.  Then the November Art Every Day came up and I was thinking of things to do.  Well, why not create a mood board for the Thanksgiving holidays and the wonderful autumn we are having in California?  So, I did.  Here is the result:

I source the images from my favorite magazines like  Country Living (British) , Marie Clair Idees (French), Country Home and Gardens (British), Martha Stewart Living and many of the Stampington magazines like Somerset Life.  Putting this together got me in the fall spirit and a creative mood.  Thanksgiving is around the corner so I am planning to apply my 'art everyday' in a culinary way as well as decorating my house for the event.  A process to be sure.  Then, on 'black Friday' I plan on staying home where it is safe and begin decorating for Christmas!  So a possible mood board change to come.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Cinnamon and Apples

There is nothing like the smell of warm butter, apples and cinnamon on a fall day.  A family tradition during the fall and winter is to have pan-fried apples for breakfast.  It is like apple pie without the crust but quick to make and delicious with the other items on your breakfast plate.  Here is the recipe:

(Note:  You can increase and decrease this recipe to meet your needs - this is a hand-me-down recipe that has no specific measurements so play around with it).

Apples (see below)
Ground Cinnamon
Brown sugar light or dark
butter or Canola oil
A well seasoned frying pan - Cast iron is best
Dried Cranberries - optional.

Apples - pick Gala's, Empires, Pink Lady or your favorite apples.  How many?  One per person to be served.
Core the apples and cut into wedges - should be able to get 8 out of each apple

Using skillet - medium high heat - I love my cast iron pans - use 2 tablespoons of butter or Canola. (Butter is traditional but for those cutting their fat can use the Canola.

Once the butter melts (don't let it burn), add the apples and keep them moving so they don't burn.  (If using the oil wait till it gets hot but not smoking).

As the apple brown, add brown sugar - for about 4 apples a 1/2 cup is fine.  Increase by increments if you have a lot of apples. Too much over powers the apple flavor and makes it too sweet.
Let the sugar melt as you keep the apples turning so they are coated by the syrup that is forming.  Sprinkle ground cinnamon to taste.

Keep the apples moving so that they caramelize in the brown sugar and cinnamon.  I like to add dried cranberries but you don't have to.  Raisins work, too!  A handful will do.  

When the apples are brown and coated add about 1/4 cup of water cover and steam a minute or so then remove the cover and let the water evaporate from the syrup that should be forming.  Keep the apples moving coating them in the syrup.

When apples are tender but not mushy serve!

Comments and suggestions are welcome!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Autumn is here! Yep, even in California

I have lived in California all of my life.  It is one of the most beautiful states in our country - sorry I am a little bias.  I have been to other states and have found them all beautiful in their unique way - Virginia, Louisiana, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Hawaii, New York, and Massachusetts.  When I lived in Los Angeles, you basically experience two distinct seasons, summer (May to October) and a combination of fall and winter which was often just cold and wet  (November to April).  When I moved to the Bay Area with all its micro-climates there was a sense of seasons that come close to the traditional Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter.  Now, mind it is no way comparable to back east or other parts of the country where deciduous trees reign. No, no.  But here, if your patient and open yourself to a Northern California set of seasons you will see a cold, wet winter from November to February, a wet but warming spring from March to June with a couple of hot spells thrown in, a summer from June to late September, (again, it depends on where you are in the Bay Area since in the city it is foggy and cool but in the East bay and the valley you see from the 80's to triple digit hot and dry.  Then Fall slips in around October and the liquid amber trees flare up during mild days and chilly nights.  No it is not like back east and that is okay.

Recently, on my way to work the first week in October, the morning sunset was stunning and illuminated a fall day ready to begin.

The day was a mild with the air dry and warm with a dusty edge to it. The Sycamores and liquid amber trees are beginning to shimmer in reds, golds and rusts.  Until the rains came, the nights have turned chill with inky skies and the scent of hearths firing up signaled that our Northern California autumn has a arrived.  For you back east folks, if the temp drops below 60 around here in California, our little sun bunny skin break out into goose bumps and we flare up the heaters.  I know, that ain't cold but it is to

Some mornings on my way to work, I stop at La Boulange, my favorite food stop and I get a mocha to set me up for the day.  My favorite barista, Alexis always does clever things with the drink.  This past week she gave me an autumnal leaf to celebrate the advent of fall.
As Autumn evolves over the coming days, our California farms will finish the harvest, events like, Fleet Week (which just happened), harvest festivals and pumpkin patches will spring up along the highways, in open lots and special places like ArdenWood down in the south east bay.   Fall has come to California. 

Leah Piken Kolidas from  Creative Everyday has provided us with the theme of Autumn to enhance our creative powers.  I hope to complete a piece I started a week ago and get it ready for you all to see.  I love leaves and leaf shapes and with the colors of leaves right now is just stunning and I am inspired.  I am working on a piece that involves collage, printing and painting, so, look out for my next post which I hope will be by next week if not earlier.  Cheers and happy fall!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Family history in a collage

I am all fired up and inspired by Leah Piken Kolidas' challenge for September.  Creating with history as the theme.  So, I have already posted a tutorial on how to make a depression/war-era trivet.  I have also created a collage using photos of my grandmother as a young woman in the 20's.  Here is the result with details.  Enjoy!
I call it Lemon Pie. My Nana made the best lemon meringue pie.



I am trying to build my art around the three things I like:  Drawing and painting, sewing and all thing vintage.  Mainly this is a paper collage with photo transfers on to cloth as well as the addition of vintage laces.  The ground is thick hand made paper with a deckle edge.  I really enjoyed putting this together.  It started as one thing some sort of grid collage and it evolved into this.   Enjoy!

A vintage craft

Hello!  Yes, it has been a while since my last post but dare I say the cliche?  "Life happened!"  Anyway, it did but I am back and making the effort to share.  As the title of this post states, I am going to share a vintage craft.  Yes, a tutorial. The inspiration came when I walked into a store that carries vintage items for the home as well as one-offs from our crafty and arty community.  I found a vintage trivet made from cotton fabrics of about the late 30's to 40's and bottle caps!  It was adorable and showed signs of being loved and well used.  Well, as we are all being 'green minded' and try to recycle, reuse and reduce our carbon footprint, I thought this would be a great little craft to figure out and use to make gifts for my friends. Here is the result of my trial and error of replicating what I saw:
Finished product.

Bottle caps - Wash, rinse and dry if you don't want a 'yeasty' odor to linger.  Note:  Because I used caps from non-twist bottles I had to pick and chose the ones that were the least dented.
Fat quarters of your favorite stash fabric.
Needle, thread (I used quilting thread), scissors, paper for a template (I use freezer paper).

Create a template.  A circle that is larger than the bottle cap.
I layered all the fabrics and pinned template with one pin.

Showing the 4 layers

Cut out your circles.

Turn and use a running stitch around the folded edge.  Yes!  It's making a yo-yo.

Gather the thread slightly to get it started.

Place the cap top side down into the yo-yo.

Finish gathering over the cap and tighten.  Lock the stitching.

A completed cap.

Arrange your caps how you want.
Run threaded needle under the open edge to outer edge where you want to attach to the next cap.

Insert needle into the edge of the next cap and begin buttonhole stitch to secure the caps together.

Buttonhole stitch in progress.

Close-up of the attachment.  Finish off stitching then run needle through towards one of the cap openings and snip.

Once all the caps are attached in the pattern of your choice (diamond like mine, hexagon or other shape), your trivet is ready to use.  You could cut a felt shape and glue to the bottom of the trivet to protect the stitching and soften the contact between table and trivet.  Your choice.  I left mine as it is.  It became a gift for a girl friend who likes vintage and loves to cook.

I hope you can use this tutorial to your advantage.  Please let me know how yours came out and if you have any comments or suggestions on how to do this craft in a better way, please share with us all.  Cheers.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

July - Creative Everyday Theme: Blue

One of my blogging groups is Creative Everyday - Leah Piken Kolidas' website  She gathers like minded folk around being creative everyday and encourages us all to exercise our talents and share them.  She provides themes to stimulate those of us who are looking for a direction to take off on to and for those of use who are blocked or sluggishly procrastinating getting into our studios.  In anycase, I finally have gotten past my block and thank you Leah I produced something!  The theme being blue I did a collage using phototransfer, rubber stamping and adding type.  Here is my first effort in a long time.

"Awake, O north wind...Blow upon my garden, let its fragrance be wafted abroad." - The song of Solomon

My summer vacation has begun with blue skys and warm days that have been long awaited.  Given that California has experienced the coldest and wettest year so far and last summer was a precursor of it, I thought this collage spoke of clear summer days with lazy clouds and winged spirits free to soar.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Finding inspiration

I have been at work finishing up before vacation starts at 4:00 tomorrow.  Yippey Skippey!  I have pretty much completed wrapping up things before I leave.  With that said, I have been...dare I say it?  Surfing the net and finding so many talented and exciting folks!  My goal for doing this?  I want to re-kick start my creative life.  No more putting things on hold.  No more putting my creative life on the back burner.  I am struggling with how self focused that sounds but frankly, I have been a pillar of salt for everyone but me.  So, finding balance is what is I must achieve.  It is my Capricorn nature to be of use to others - my practical nature puts business before pleasure.  However, there is a side to us that is down right mischievous and playful but we often lock it up.  Open the door and throw away the key!  I am out and ready to shout to the world I am a CREATIVE person and I will live it, dance it, sing it, love it and enjoy it.

Okay, who did I discover in my wondering around in the electronic ethers?  Well for starters: This is a great site with tutorials and all but unfortunately she has stopped blogging.  She will be keeping her site up for reference.  If you are into creative handsewing - check her blog out.

Then there is, I love vintage clothes and styling and this blog is loaded with images and ideas.  She provides tutorials for sewers and crafters all with a vintage lens!

Through MollieMakes Magazine I found, What a lovely site - all things bright, sunny and fun. 

I have been inspired by these wonderful people and hope to let the juices ebb and flow naturally.  One thing I am working on is a studio space in my house.  I am all over the map in my house when I am sewing and crafting, baking and drawing.  Too crazy for me when I start tripping over materials, bags, the cat and all.  I like things to be organized and methodical so I am trying to reorganize my house so that I can have a permanent space for being creative.  I checked out: where I found some other links and ideas.  I have a small 10 x 10 foot square space - my dining room is open to the living room and kitchen.  It has two walls on is all window.  No carpet but hardwood flooring.  Though I have been planning to convert a corner and wall in my living room, I am thinking more and more that the dining room (where I usually end up anyway) has better lighting, no carpet to stain or mess up and space to house furniture, et al.  What will I do for a dining room?  Well, the living room is big enough that I could set up a double drop leaf table that can be whipped out for dining at any time.  I can't seat more than 6 at my table in this small place anyway so dining entertainment is limited.  I hope to post pictures of my pre and post organizing and decorating as I go.

I think good lighting, organized materials and a table surface at least 31" from the ground is the start of a good studio whether sewing, crafting or whatever.  What do you think?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Summer time and the living is easy!

Hello, hello!  I have returned as the crow flies.  Work has over shadowed my life but I am free and easy.  I have a job, so I am blessed.  I am enjoying a well earned vacation and I am simply dying to get back into the groove creatively.  So thank you for hanging in there for me.  Will post soon. 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Happy Valentines Day a day early!

Love comes in many ways and forms.
Best wishes for all the love
you can fill your heart with.
Here's to love and its capacity to
build HOPE which in turn builds
Optimism which gives over
to JOY.
Valentine's cookies I made for my family.  I haven't made sugar cookies with icing in years.  What gooey fun!  The entire kitchen is covered in a layer of flour dust and the smell of freshly baked goods.  Yum!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Full Moon

The full moon has been spectacular this week!  Here is my impression - a simple rendering.