Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Ringing in the New Year

For as long as I can remember, my family has always ended the year laughing our heads off with a game. It's a good way to end 365 days- or was it 366 this year? Anyhow, I only have a couple minutes before I have to go give the husband the New Year's kiss, so I will make this quick. I have chosen my word for the year. I'm going to work on "Love". Not just the people I already love, that would be too easy. I'm talking about the challenging people. This is probably going to be harder than I think. But it's late, and that's the word I'm sticking with. Gotta run!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Fireside Reads

Winter is on its way and it's time to start a big stack of wonderful books near your fireplace or your favorite chair. I found this book by accident at my local Barnes and Nobles. Our eyes met from across the room and I fell in love. And I'm sorry, sometimes you CAN judge a book by its cover. It is the most perfect "fireside read" I have ever found and the illustrations are just beautiful. It has inspired me to create my own illustrated journal- we'll see how long that idea lasts, but I'm pretty excited to try.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

One More Ghost

I almost forgot to show you this because it was taken in my pre-digital days and required a scan! Anyhow, if you're headed out to any Halloween parties this year and you want to bring the grossest dessert anyone has ever seen, I've got the recipe for you. Now, I've seen people bring yucky looking food to parties before- dirt cake, finger cookies, etc. It was always creative and cool, but it was never too gross to eat. This will make you gag. Some people won't eat it. But if you can force down that first spoonful, you're in for a treat. Feast your eyes on Andrea and Heather's Kitty Litter Cake:

They actually went out and purchased a new kitty litter pan and scoop and washed them. Then they filled the pan with a mixture of pudding and crumbled yellow cake (I think they added a little blue-green food color to some of it). And as an added bonus, melted tootsie rolls. I dare you to try scooping this on to your plate and eating it. This was the coolest Halloween food I have ever seen.

Ghosts of Halloweens Past (part 2)

We have a few activities that go on during the Halloween party aside from the costume contest. Almost everyone brings a pumpkin and we all sit around in the studio carving and making a huge mess. If the weather is not too warm, the carved pumpkins generally last until Halloween night. After we're finished, we light them all on the front steps or out on the deck. This is the point in the party where I really start to wonder why I spent so much time worrying about cleaning the house.

One of our more unusual activities is the weed maze/scavenger hunt. You're probably familiar with corn mazes. I don't have time to grow that much corn, but the weeds in the back 5-6 acres of our property grow pretty darn tall and they work just fine for making a maze. So every year Dan goes out a few days before the party and mows an elaborate maze for our guests to run through. The first one through the maze wins a prize. However, there are also little trinkets hidden in the maze and the person(s) who finds the most also wins a prize. Megan and Andy are our scavenger hunt experts. I think they've won every year. They have flash lights that attach to their heads. Dan waits at the end of the maze to see who comes out first and I usually run around with the guests to make sure everyone is doing okay. Most people seem to enjoy the weed maze, but I never know if they're just going out to humor me or not. I always welcome people to stay behind and watch from the windows if they want to, but they all end up out on the deck racing to the starting line anyway. I don't think Troy and Mindy are big fans of the maze, though. Troy usually waits with Dan at the end and Mindy does her Mindy-thing, whatever that might be at the time. In the picture below, she is miming the dog. (Squamettes- do you recognize the giant flash light that Dan is holding??)

Ususally, there is also some small disaster that happens at the Halloween Party. As I said, I skipped the BIG party this year, but I did invite the immediate family over to carve pumpkins. We mowed a mini-weed maze (photos to come) for the nephews and while we were outside, Engine knocked over Erin's Pampered Chef baking dish and it shattered all over the floor. She had brought over turkey meatballs and Engine, who much to his dismay lives with vegetarians, goes a little crazy when he smells meat that is not cat food. He couldn't help himself. In the confusion, I did not take a picture of this inicident. BUT I did capture this from 2006.... Dan was VERY concerned that year about the number of children that would be attending. Something was bound to get broken, ruined or otherwise destroyed with multiple young goblins running wild in our house. Well, not one child managed to do any damage. EXCEPT for my husband, who thought it would be really interesting to see if he could throw his friend's slimy, plastic fake heart up in the air and get it to stick to our ceiling. It stuck. It also STAINED. To this day there is a faint, oily blob shape on our ceiling in the livingroom. I love Erin's face in this picture.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Ghosts of Halloweens Past (part 1)

For the past 4 or 5 years, Dan and I have put on a big Halloween party at our house every October. This year, I am taking a break. I'm watching the colors change, taking walks and just basking in the beauty of autumn. I'm not worrying about keeping my house perfect and I'm not trying to come up with a new costume or an invitation design.
But part of me is feeling incredibly guilty and a little disappointed. We always have a great time and love seeing everyone. And the creativity of people with their costumes just blows me away every year. Probably my least favorite part of the party is the costume contest- we have a "people's choice" vote and the winner gets a prize. But how do I give a prize to ONE??? At first it was funny. People found out about the prize and got competitive and the costumes were amazing. But I hated not giving prizes to everyone. I can't imagine the effort that must have gone into creating some of these costumes.
So, I picked out a few pictures and, as promised, here is a little glimpse into Halloweens Past...

Aunt Thelma as... well, we were never quite sure what she was, but it was creepy!

Kim and Dan as The Mad Scientist and her unfortunate subject... this peering through the window thing made for some freaky photos!
Mindy and Troy in 2006
In 2007 they went as a clown and a mime because they know I hate clowns (and mimes are even worse). Every time I turned around they would be peeking around a corner at me.

Mom and Dad as cowboys
My nephews as little bats and their dad behind them as a mummy
Ryan and Erin in 2005 as Donald and Martha
Ryan and Erin again in 2006 as Johnny Cash and June Carter...
Baby G

And some of our winning costumes...

Ryan and Erin as the Chef and the Lobster in 2004

Mindy and Troy in 2005

My sister's family as monkeys in 2006. This one cracked me up. They all came running up the driveway when they arrived, shrieking and eating bananas.

Ryan and Erin as the Maytag Repair Man and the Oven, complete with bun... there's a sonogram of Madalyn inside the door!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Eventful Weekend

Well, another weekend has gone by and I have done NOTHING in the studio. But I had a good excuse- it's fall, it's beautiful outside, the frost is coming, I had to harvest stuff... sigh. I have no excuse. Everytime I go to sit down at my table, something "more important" catches my eye. Like the dirty dishes in the sink, the cat hair billowing across the floor... you know how it is. Right? Please tell me there are other artist out there that need to be physically tied down to get any art work done! We did have a lot going on this weekend though. We finally got a game night planned over at my sister's house and I was bound and determined to be on time. She lives about 40 minutes away and we usually end up being late for whatever reason. Nothing was going to make us late this time. I had it all planned out that we would leave the house a full hour and a half before we needed to be there which would even give us time to run a quick errand at Home Depot on the way. You know how they say if you want to make God laugh then tell him your plans? Well, I think he heard this one. I was all ready to go and I looked out the front door and saw Dan staring out over the back yard and Bandit was barking. There was a hot air balloon coming. Bandit doesn't like anything invading our air space, so this was causing quite a commotion. The balloon finally came into view over the trees and floated across the sky. It was really low and we thought it might land in the field next to us. But then it went up again and JUST missed the tree line. We decided to follow it a little ways so we headed up the driveway and down the street (Mind you, just walking up our driveway has already nixed the Home Depot trip). The balloon was coming down again and we could see it at the end of the street landing in one of our neighbors' back yards! Everyone was coming out of their houses and running over to see what was going on. It was quite a landing- T & E's yard isn't small, but I wouldn't want to try to land a hot air balloon in it. Soon the chase van arrived and everyone got to help squeeze all the air out or the balloon and roll it back up and stuff it in the van. Then the balloon people broke out the champagne and the snacks and we had a little impromptu party in T & E's yard. Bandit was in heaven. He sat in the middle of the circle and went around to everyone to see if they would share something with him. One of the neighbors said he's lived on this street for 36 years and this has never happend before. That was my opening line when I called D to explain we'd be late. Again.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Girls Night!!

Mom and Dad ventured out of town with some friends this weekend and I was in charge of watching their dog, Bailey. So the sisters and I figured this would be a great time to host a girls night. We had actually been planning to have a girls night for a while... Erin and I had made up a basket for Dawn for Christmas with a girls night coupon inside.
We started out with a shopping trip to Joanne Fabrics so Dawn and Erin could get materials for Halloween costumes. Dawn ASKS her 3 and 4 year old boys what they want to be. Just like with the birthday cakes (May '08), she always gets an interesting answer. And she always goes with it. So this year she is making a blue lobster and a red crab outfit. If I were her, I would offer choices, but she's always been braver than me. Erin is keeping her costume a secret for now. I'm thinking of posting some of our Costumes of Halloweens Past in an upcoming post. People really amaze me with their creativity.
Our next activity was making a grape pie with grapes from the backyard. This is kind of labor intensive- you have to skin and seed the grapes. But it makes a good pie.
Then we headed over to the Bonefish Grill for dinner. And a quick dip in Mom and Dad's hot tub before watching "Made of Honor"- I couldn't tell you how it was, I fell asleep through most of it. Here's to girlfriends!

Monday, September 22, 2008

More Squam!

I have to say thank you to all you Squam ladies for warning me about the downward emotional spiral that often comes after one of these wonderful art retreats. I went home fully prepared for it and I think I'm doing ok. Granted, the "snow-day" the day after I came home (see post from 9/16) definitely gave me the upper hand, but I hadn't realized that I've had this emotional crash you all speak of many times (right after Christmas, usually!) - I just never associated it with the emotional high that preceded it. Being aware of it makes a huge difference.
Anyhow... as my new friend Linda said , "I'm not even going to try to put Squam into words". I did the best I could in the last post. Now I'm just going to show you pictures!
I had the privilege of taking Judy Wise's Art Journaling class. What an incredible teacher and delightful person! I got so much out of this class. Take a look at the studio we worked in... Even if Judy's class hadn't been completely inspiring, the room by itself would've been enough to make me happy.
Ice cream sundae on the dock...

On my second day of classes, I got to meet Penelope... she has been inspiring me with her writing for years and I was so completely excited to meet her. I took her Travel Journaling class and her Editorial Illustration class. Both were fantastic. Here I am with Beth checking out an interesting contraption on the dock during the Travel Journal class...

Then in the second part of the Travel Journal class, we all piled into Penelope's rental car (and a few other cars!) and headed to Meredith, NH, a little south of the RD Camps. Three of the girls in the class and I went looking for a coffee shop to do some sketching in. Along the way we found a cute antique shop that we walked around in for a while. I thought I smelled a funny burning smell while we were in there. Then we found a bead shop in the back of the same building. While we were in there, a lady from another shop within the building came in and told the clerk that she smelled something in her jewelry shop. About 15 minutes later, fire trucks and police cars were showing up to put out an electrical fire in the basement! Now, only true artists (and probably scrapbookers) can appreciate what happened next... two of the girls I was with went running up to the fire trucks and started posing in front of them! This was when I decided I wanted to spend the rest of my life at Squam. I had found my soul mates.

After all the excitement was over, we settled into a beautiful little coffee shop and sketched and painted for about an hour.

Now, my next pictures are of my blogging hero who pulled my out of a three year artist block. Judy Wise, in a recent post, dared anyone to get a serious picture of Penelope... I am apparently not up for the challenge.
and she's FAST. This picture I just whipped around and snapped without even looking while we were all waiting for the professional photographer to take our group shot. I didn't even know Penelope was in this shot until I got back to the cabin that night!! So yes, Judy, I'm with you. I dare you all.

Now this lovely lady is my new motivational kick-in-the-pants. Theresa asked for the mic one night at one of our evening gatherings and wanted to know (I'm paraphrasing because sadly, I did not write this down. ) what was wrong with all of us (artists). "Your work is fantastic. You are so talented and yet I hear you all saying that you're afraid you're not good enough... where is this coming from?" She went on and I just don't remember exactly what she said because frankly, I was stunned. You know what Theresa? You're totally right. And I'm going to do my best to try to remember that the next time I feel that way- which is a lot. This picture is going up in my studio. Rock on, Theresa.

One day I finally got brave enough to go swimming. It wasn't bad, but I don't think any of us ever really got warm while we were at the camp, so this wasn't easy!! One night I even had a dream that it was snowing. Of course, it hit 90 on my drive home. I'm not kidding.
Here is Cat's cat quilt (I love her name). Cat was one of my cabin mates and she runs Bad Cat Graphics. Cat and I found common ground pretty quickly.

My favorite thing was hanging out in the living room with the fire and all the girls creating art. These ladies were full of creativity all the way to the tips of their toes. I will not show you my boring white socks. I will be going shopping for artist socks very soon.

And I will leave you with this poem that I found in the Rockywold Deephaven history book. This pretty much says it all.