Saturday, December 31, 2011

lots of studio time

maybe it is the time of year.  i do revisit the things that are important to me after my birthday and again when spending time with the family.  it could be that all the family time that allows me to focus on what is important in life. my kids. my family. work is good too. but i always seem to come back to art.

i have finally hired a part-time personal assistant to help me get a handle on the boring follow-up items that have been sitting out there on my task list.  even though he is still training, I can already tell that it is very helpful.  i've gotten into the studio more in the last couple of weeks than in the last three months.

it is amazing how having to explain things to someone else and 'delegate responsibly' keeps me on track.  i need to keep adjusting and reminding myself of where i want his focus to maximize his usefulness and that allows me to focus my energy on my most important priorities.

Plus I feel more free to do what I want to do instead of should-ing myself into a corner.

Friday, December 30, 2011

painting on into the night

well, i was only going to paint for an hour… but it so quickly turned into two in the morning.

similar to a post earlier which showed the gutta border on, this shows the beginnings of the painted border and down on the far end is where i started the sky.

part of the sky.  there are about ten layers of dye in this area just in blues.

close up of the sky in progress

Thursday, December 29, 2011

scarf progress

i started [some time ago] with a blank silk scarf.

wanda picked some muted greens and blues from the silk color sample. funny thing; people always really like the sample and frequently request something like "can I just have this?"

so this time i am going for it. with an organic twist. created the border of oak trees to symbolize her strength and resilience. and muted but still uplift spring-y colors in that area for spring and renewal.

so far, the border gutta is done (twice, because i re-stretched it); gutta fine details of trees; one coat of tree bark on all of the tree trunks; and two trees completed (like the one below).

i could have put in the gutta sky grid first, but is so irresistible when it nears the painting part of the process. So I will finish the trees before I work on the sky.  normally, i must do the sky first.  but with this layout, where everything is so isolated, I can start where ever I want.

scarf progress and frames

a 22x90" scarf was stretched for painting the other week. It has been a long time since I have done a piece this large. In fact, it was too large for the silk stretcher frames I had.

(A moment of ooo and aaaah for the Artsy's Stretcher bars.  These babies are the best thing for silk painters since water soluable gutta came to be.  they are light, adjustable, and provide for the insertion of silk suspension hooks.)

as i said, the scarf was too large for my existing stretcher system. thanks to generous christmas gifts, the length of my stretcher frames has doubled!

since the silk was already stretched and gutta application had already begin, i debated about re-stretching the silk to the new frames. but in the end, it was worth the extra time. now i can walk around my work table instead of ducking under it.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

pack that lunch!

that's right - school has started up full swing.  we decided it was important for the boys to take more of a part in the various aspects of running our household.  we've started with some small changes and one large change regarding school-day lunches.

the 5-footer wants to take his lunch to school each day this year. he sees me packing my lunch every day, and he makes good food choices.  but with all of the dietary changes i have to make, it adds a bit too much to my planning time during the week to also take that on.  also, he's in sixth grade, and we need to spend more time teaching him some new useful life skills.  i made a deal with the 5-footer.

deal: get to take lunch to school in a cool lunch box/bag for assistance in planning, shopping, and packing the lunch.

i purchased very cool lunch bags that keep his food cold at a safe temperature.  (mayo going bad and food poisoning are not something i want for him.  the link above his a little info-mercial, but these are available all over the web at, ebay, etc.

additionally, a lunch made of all packaged foods really bothers me. it is so unhealthy. we rarely eat that stuff at home; i don't want him taking it to school either.)  for that, he can take his lunch if he agrees to learn to plan a rotating lunch menu, the shopping list for it, and help grocery shop.

he was more than accepting of the plan.  he and the 4.5-footer have been helping grocery shop with their lists and mini-carts for years.  he's a old hand at grocery shopping. (number 1 helper caliber!)  he is very detail-oriented (imagine that!) and likes planning, sorting, and list making.  (is this kid my son?! apple...tree...)

we reviewed how to plan a rotating menu, and he started partnering up foods in the planner notebook he has for this. he did a great job for the first week of school.  but.... i wished that there would be even more fun and graphical way for him to do this. also that it would be more time-effective.  well, my wish has been answered.

check out the site Build Healthy Kids for an easy drag-and-drop lunch menu planner.

my recommendation:
  1. review with your child that each lunch has to have one of each of the categories
  2. explain that our bodies and digestive systems like to have variety and no repeats for at least 3 days
  3. let your child put their own lunch together
  4. review their lunch plan together - use this opportunity to praise them! how completely fantastic is it that your kid is making super choices! if things need to be adjusted, review and discuss it together. let them tell you what they picked. let them move something, if it needs to be moved.  please understand that you're teaching your kids a new skill - set aside the time to do it justice.  both of you will benefit from a calm environment with enough time to complete this process.
  5. print out two copies of the plan
  6. put one copy in a prominent place (like the refrigerator)
  7. put the second copy on a clipboard
  8. before getting out of the car at the grocery store, discuss the grocery budget.  talk to your child about prices and nutrition.
  9. bring the clipboard with you to the store.  as you do your regular shopping from your list, have your child spotting things on their list. 
  10. as they spot items on their list, pause and pay special attention to them. look at their items with them.
  11. help your child spot healthy substitutions and talk about lower cost items. ask your child to try to find lower cost options.
  12. read nutrition information with them. ask them to compare the sugar content of items too.
  13. have a special shelf or part of the refrigerator and cupboard where lunch supplies are stored.
  14. let your child help arrange this area. put them in charge of keeping it nice looking.
  15. have a dry run of how to pack the lunch box. - have your child fit different combinations of items into it like a puzzle. review how they packed and offer suggestions about how something might fit better and underline what they did correctly, nicely, and neatly.
  16. suggest that they could mark items off the list as they pack them.
  17. decide with your child when packing their lunch fits into their morning routine.  (we have an agreement of no screen time in the morning until after the following things are completed - breakfast, dressing, grooming, packing lunch, packing school bag and putting it by the door) 
  18. model what needs to happen when they return home with a used lunch bag. where do you expect the containers to land? does the lunchbox get wiped out? does it get stored in the freezer or somewhere else?
  19. praise them each day for packing their lunch, using the chart to mark things off, and keeping the food items neatly.
  20. if something is out of place or needs to be done differently, ask them politely to adjust it.  give them positive feedback about something related that they are doing very well.
happy growing!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

like mom said: it's all good fun until somebody gets hurt

we had a fantastic time helping the neighbors clean up after the many trees that were taken down this afternoon!  the boys (especially Joe) were fascinated by the burn pile and the wood splitter.  Joe, always interested in fast, loud, dangerous, didn't want to leave.

i had to go and get him. just as we were walking home, he looked so sad. "Joe, didn't you have fun? It looked like you had loads of fun." "My hand hurts." he looks up at me with guilt on his face. "What did you do? Did you just burn your hand?" "Yes. It hurts really bad."

ran him to the house.  he's now soaking his hand in bucket of ice water to stop the blistering.  that's the hard way to learn that even if something isn't flaming, it is still hot!  his palm and part of his wrist got it. good thing we have the 'good' cream. i keep it on hand since my burn incident. should be an interesting evening.

boys, gotta love 'em. gotta have the first aid always ready too.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


my grandpa on my dad's side passed away two weeks ago. it was surprising to me and my parents, because we hadn't even known that he was sick.  apparently he has been having trouble with his heart again and had a stay in the hospital the week before he come home and passed away.

it was sad and i will miss him. it was hard to be at the gathering of family as we started to reflect on my grandma's funeral and the contrasts in their life.

my grandpa loved us, there is not doubt, so they have that in common.  but my grandpa seemed to always be rushing about from one thing to the next. it begs to wonder if he was really taking in the life around him and enjoying it all.  there were times when we would be visiting, the ole-and-lena jokes flowing, and abruptly it would be time for he and doris to leave for another appointment.

i am reflecting this week with my busy schedule that i need to slow it down and bring my life closer to home and closer to the people and activities that i really, really love.  not that i don't enjoy the activities that i have scheduled outside of home, but i truly love to be at home and doing regular daily things with my boys and being in my studio and yard.

i can hear my grandma's voice in that: 'stop cleaning the house and play with your kids.'  Though you would think that once retired you would have all the time in the world, i hope that my grandpa was happy in his mode of living.  it reminds me that i cannot live in the future, planning for free time, but to live each day as the gift of now that it is.

Friday, June 24, 2011

working through it

i'm too tired tonight to actually go into my studio and finish any of the 'dressing the room' stuff.  thought i would post about the changes in there since coming home from up north.

i was in the culling mood after having helped sort and go through my grandma's stuff.  you know, it was just stuff.  there were a few great things like to jars of pearly buttons that i have some craft and gift ideas for. there was her outside coat she wore to hang out the laundry on the clothes line. i like those memories of her - from the time that i was little until recent months, she would put on her outside coat, go out the back door and hang out the laundry on the clothes line.  that old clothes line.  *sigh*

i came home from up north, spent a couple of hours talking to my mom and a couple of more hours moping around the house.  the house has gotten a bit cluttered. i have too much furniture and some of it, oh heck, most all of it, i've had since i was a legal adult.  i have been big on antiques, and still am, but it really needs to be functional.  with the boys, i just don't have the time to pamper the furniture.  so i took a little evaluation of how each piece was serving the needs of the room, could it work better in a different room, etc.

pulled 15 pieces out.  it is good to have open space and rooms where the energy moves around freely.  my studio is a major example of this.  I removed a dresser, a huge cupboard, two tables, and a corner shelf just from that room.  I re-purposed the double-sided book shelf (which I snagged for $10 at the Minneapolis Public Library sale many years ago).  it was not doing a very good job as a television stand.  i had envisioned it working in my studio since i laid eyes on it, but it is huge.  it can really only be the focal point of the room.

i just had too much stuff in there. i pulled out all of my weaving supplies from my studio - i haven't used the loom in years, why am i keeping it?  i don't see myself sitting down to that in just as many years since i would much rather draw, paint or scrapbook.  also, weaving for me takes concentration and counting to set it up, and that is just not something that works with the boys playing.  and, you know, they need to play.  i would rather they were loud and playing then watching tv.

so all those pieces came out and went on a tag sale.  the giant shelf went in, and the table-top from one of the tables was re-used to make an elevated works space on top of the shelf so i can sit at it with my comfy studio chair.

early on, it proved too much for me to do by myself.  mom came over with her 'moving men' - these little disks for under heavy furniture are the-bomb!  i have always disliked the carpeting in that room, but had kept it because i didn't have to care if i stained it.  we ripped out the carpeting and down to cement floor.  i have floor sealant to paint on it yet.  things are shaping up.

Friday, May 27, 2011

bye bye baby

Grandpa and Grandma
it has been a crazy ride this month. but then again, its always some kind of crazy for lots of people any given day.

at the left is a picture of my grand parents when they are just starting out.  it's that loving life that i want to celebrate.

grandma passed away a couple of thursdays ago.  i'm so proud the way she lived her life. she made it through a lot of struggle and strife, raised a great family, took care of grandpa when he got sick, and touched many lives.  she was the kind of woman who lifted people up.

she loved to garden.  when i left home to head up north to see her this last time, my yard and plants were just coming out of the ground. it is only fitting then that when i got home from that weekend, my plum tree was blooming, the grapevine on my deck bloomed, the lilacs were flowering, my peonies were 3 1/2 feet tall, the flowering crabapple tree was blossoming - as if offering a silent tribute to her.

she loved butterflies and pansies, peonies and us.  we never doubted that. i miss you, grams.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

mobile madness

the minnesota regional science fair is fast approaching - this saturday - and the schedule seems tight for a 5th grader.  we have to be done setting up and ready for judges by 8:30-8:45 am.  the 5th grader has to hang out by himself in the arena pretty much all morning.  it doesn't seem like he'll be by any kids from his school.  it will be good for him to get to know some new kids while they wait between judges.

i decided it was time to get him a phone.  that way i can be at hand and he can do some mini-blogging about his experience at the fair.  it'll be fun to see it 'from the inside' and from his perspective.  he's quite a good photographer.

so this led me to call to add a line the family plan... a free Motorola Defy and overnight shipping later, i'm looking down at the phone and manual for something that is way too cool for school.

i set him up an email address and a facebook account and set all the security settings and gave him a lesson on how to post and what not to include... on my old phone.  well it's not that bad - T-Mobile Wing - win 6.5 - nice.  not Defy nice, but nice.

i'm crushing on the new phone.

we've been selling tickets for the green isle community school carnival (the night before the science fair).  and now getting ready to work games at that.

Monday, February 14, 2011

one-half of shelving

One-half of the shelving is up and arranged.  I have the track, brackets, and boards for the other part of the corner, but am short on time.

studio cleanup

I have started the annual studio refresh! This is turning into a big one (relatively speaking) for my small home studio space.  It seems that I always forget the before pics.