Archive for April, 2011

Here’s what I woke up to earlier in the week.

It’s a magnificent sight since we are several feet below average precipitation levels and the fires that have sparked all around us have been very unsettling (this March has been the worst March on record for fires in Colorado, with 26 fires, not to mention the several we had within 10-20 miles of us just last week!).

The snow we received wasn’t very much, just a couple of inches, but due to the time of year, it was heavy and wet and coated the trees.

Colorado lives up to its reputation for having light, powdery snow and it’s the reason that you can often discern individual snowflakes and their intricate patterns (if you’ve never seen a real snowflake up close, check out this post from earlier in the year!)

But by April, the snow changes consistency, much like the snow I grew up with in New England.  It coats the trees, creates a spectacular scene but can also down power lines.

One of my all time favorite memories is one that happened a couple years ago this time of year.  My teenage nieces had come to visit during their April vacation and like most teens of their age, they were attached to their phones, texting non-stop and glued to their laptops.  Although a bit dismayed by their tech-zombie ways, I was still happy to have them in my presence.

But you can imagine my surprise when a storm dumped 2 feet of heavy, wet, April snow the weekend before they were to leave and we were out of power the entire weekend.  Most people might think this a scary emergency.  I thought of it as a wonderful opportunity to get them back to basics.

Truth be told, we made a poor decision when we had this house built and didn’t install a wood stove (what were we thinking?) and are in the process of adding one in this summer.  And since we have forced air heat, no power meant nothing to power the furnace.  We do keep a kerosene heater on standby for when we have no power and it certainly can heat up our great room (living room/dining room/kitchen is all one room) pretty quickly (we have a very sensitive CO2 detector and it has never gone off and we usually keep the heater on only long enough to warm up a room, then turn it off).

But the saving grace is that our gas cooking range/oven which runs beautifully on our propane tank even when the power is out, so all I have to do is a little cooking or baking and the whole place stays cozy.  Needless to say, a lot of bread was made that weekend.

The trickiest part is water or lack thereof.  Without power, our well can’t pump water.  However, with snow being the source of our power outage, we had plenty of white stuff to melt down to keep our water needs met (but have you ever tried to melt snow?  A giant pot filled with snow maybe yields a quart of water, so we had the stove going all day long which brought additional heat to our home).

We always keep about a dozen jugs of water on hand for drinking, so this cooked down water – while perfectly potable – was used to help flush toilets, take sponge baths and keep the pups hydrated.

After 18 or so hours, we knew we’d have to empty the fridge out, so we first put everything on our deck under the cover of snow.  Insulated, cold food…check.  But after the sun came out the 2nd day and the snow quickly began to melt, we knew we’d have to go to plan B, so we built a snow igloo on the Eastern side of the house and it did a great job of holding together for several days and keeping our food cold.

I thought my nieces would freak – no TV, no computer, no phones on to save battery (we had no idea how long the outtage would last and our road isn’t serviced so we’re at the mercy of our neighbors with their ATV/bobcat plows).  But they did great…they didn’t complain, we enjoyed each other’s company and passed the time relaxing, sledding, playing games, reading, napping, and cooking.  I remember I even made baked/stuffed shells one night and it was divine to have a nice, hot meal when everything else around us wasn’t working.

Our bodies followed the natural rhythm of the day…we slept in huddled under our warm comforters and went to bed early when hanging out by candlelight just made our eyes heavy.  And although my sister (their mom) awaited nervously on the East Coast worried about our safety, we were doing wonderfully in our cozy little cabin in the woods.  We were warm, we were hydrated and satiated and all was surprisingly calm.  It was the best couple of days I could have spent with my nieces and when the power kicked back on that Sunday night, I was admittedly a bit torn.

It was an interesting “experiment” to see how we’d fare without power and handle ourselves in a storm and I was surprised at how relatively easy it was to do some creative brainstorming and go back to the basics.  I was pleased at how well we did, how calm we stayed and how much we actually enjoyed our “down time”

Sure, we could always unplug from technology, turn off the TV and internet for a couple days, but it’s hard to do so when you’re not forced to do so.  And while “roughing it” may not be most people’s idea of fun, it turned into such a favored memory and an example of how little you really need to be happy.

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I’ve been a busy bee this past week…spent many hours reorganizing my shops and really took inventory of all the options I was missing in my art shop.  As a result, I created about 50 listings of new options from previous artwork done; below you’ll see examples of new magnets, prints, bookmarks, ACEO’s (art cards, including some of those fun pin-up cards I made last weekend), even an original I created months ago but never added to my shop.

So that’s what I’ve been up to!  Since I’ve been doing a lot of shop maintenance the past several weekends and I’m just about caught up, I’m really hoping to focus on creating some new artwork this weekend. *fingers crossed that I don’t get distracted!*

Hope you all have a great weekend!

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A pug haiku

Peanut is fawn pug

she loves nothing more than sleep

snoring all day long

"Whaaaat?! Stop taking pictures of me!"

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I’m doing a hybrid post for Whimsical Wednesday/Eco-Thursday as this fits under both areas and frankly, I don’t have any other new artwork to share this week…busy, busy!

When my “One person’s trash is another’s treasure” post was Freshly Pressed by WordPress, many people commented that they saved glass jars as their treasure from the trash.  I hear ya; I am one of those too.

I actually started saving glass jars years ago when I spent a good part of my career working in the natural/organic products industry and learned of the harmful impact of storing food in plastic wrap and containers (especially heating up!).  So I started saving most of the glass jars that I was originally putting in the recycling bin.

Hot, soapy water and a razor blade will clear all the labels/adhesive off the jars

I used these jars to not only store grains, flours and other bulk goods (see that post here) but to also store perishable food items.  I save all my glass juice jars for storing homemade broth in, I save pasta jars to store portions of soup in, I save jelly jars to store homemade salad dressing.  It wasn’t uncommon for me to store leftovers/lunch in those jars to bring to work with me.

But jars also make great storage for crafting and/or household items.  As a kid, I remember my dad using baby food jars in his garage where he would store various nails, nuts/bolts, and screws.  I keep my vintage buttons color coded in glass jars I had on hand (yes, I’m that nerdy *wink*)

Vintage music sheet, twine and a misprinted postcard image which I turned into a gift tag and added an antique skeleton key to

You can use jars to even store office items like rubber bands and paperclips (I actually have mine in tin cans that once held tuna!) or special notes, mementos, even things like ribbons and thread if you sew.  In other words, endless uses.

Baker's twine and one of the vintage ledger stickers I've been obsessing about lately, topped with a tin star completes this look

And sure, you can use them up plain…or you can dress ‘em up like I did here.

Finally a use for my metal hardware! This piece also included ledger paper, vintage fabric measuring tape, fabric from a torn lampshade, twine and a scrabble tile

Now I went a little crazy on the embellishments…it’s the artist in me, but you can also keep it simple (I once saw a photo where an artist stored all her beads in reused jars and only painted the lids solid colors; stacked along a wall it looked so simple yet stunning).

To the top of the painted lid I added used/crumpled up tissue paper, a scalloped punch from a Japanese book and a "faux" cranberry that once fell off a wreath that I threw in my embellishment pile!

So with that in mind, here are some ideas to dress up your glass jars for decorative storage:

  • ribbons or twine
  • scraps of paper, stickers or labels
  • paint
  • crackling medium (to give that cracked paint vintage look to your painted lids)
  • gift bows or gift tags
  • embellishments found around the house like: silk flowers, buttons, metal hardware, old tissue paper, trinkets, objects found in nature (pinecones, seashells, twigs, rocks), etc. etc.

Speaking of natural elements, here's a tiny piece of driftwood I found off the shore of Florida while visiting my parents

You really could do a million different things.  It’s just a matter of how creative you want to get!

So with that in mind, rethink your recycling bin and see if there are other ways you can reuse your glass jars.

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Another round of handmade, vintage, crafting goodness!  Here are some lovely treasuries I was fortunate enough to be included in this past week on Etsy (click on any image to see in more detail).  Lots of Earth Day themes this week and I was thrilled to be included.

Green anyone?

I absolutely adore this treasury!  Great theme, great photos, beautiful items…just so darn cute!

Nice composition…cool steel gray and hot reds!  Beautiful

This is another of my absolute fav’s – so soothing, makes ya wanna crawl in and take a nap among the soothing, earthy colors!  And that recycled, felted wool owl is just so sweet!

Talk about spring!  Or even summer!  Beautiful sunflower colors.  And I heart those darling ballet flats!

And finally, some more Earthy, eco-friendly finds!

Thanks so much for checking out and supporting these handmade, vintage and eco-friendly goods!

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Here are some photos I took at a fabulous Farmer’s Market in Santa Fe, New Mexico a couple years ago.  It was eye candy and one of the best FM’s I’ve ever been to.  Looking forward to fresh, local food!

May your day be full of sunshine!

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Many of you will likely be cooking a ham on this Easter morning; and like a turkey at Thanksgiving, you might be thinking of other ways to utilize the meat so you’re not eating the same thing for days.  Here’s an easy, tasty way to incorporate those leftovers into your breakfast.

I found the original recipe at Weight Watchers, but have adapted it a bit to suit our needs/tastes.  And these can easily be made vegetarian with the omission of the ham and can also be made a variety of ways using the veggies you like to eat.  And because these are cooked in muffin tins, they are easy to travel with for breakfast on the go.

Breakfast Frittata Muffins

  • 20 oz. bag of thawed hash browns (I like the Southwest Simply Potatoes for the flavor)
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 c. skim milk
  • 4 oz. ham
  • 1/2 c. diced onions
  • 1/2 c. diced bell peppers
  • 1 c. reduced-fat sharp cheddar
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • dash of mustard powder
  • dash of paprika (smoked if you have it)

Spray muffin tins generously with non-stick spray; split hash browns evenly among 18 muffin tins and bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 12 minutes.  While the hash browns are precooking, saute veggies and ham in a pan coated with non-stick spray over medium-low heat until carmelized (about 5-10 minutes).  In a bowl, beat eggs and then add milk, cheese and seasonings.  Stir to combine, then add cooked veggies and ham to the mix.

When potatoes are done pre-cooking, push them down into muffin tin with the back of a spoon to make a base/crust for the frittata.  Top off with egg mixture split evenly among the 18 tins and return to oven for another 15 minutes.  Once out of the oven, let sit for a couple minutes to allow for easier removal from tins.  Enjoy with a hot cup of coffee!

If you celebrate the holiday, hope you have a nice Easter; otherwise, have a great Sunday!

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Sure, I understand the religious importance of Easter.  I grew up in a Roman Catholic family and every Easter we would trek up to Quebec to see grandparents and extended family, watch cross-bearing processions through the streets on good Friday (where 3 or 4 men would carry a giant, telephone-pole-sized cross through the streets, followed by chanting priests and hundreds of devotees all escorted by local police), attend church services then sit down as a family to a giant ham dotted with pineapple rings and maraschino cherries.

In the evening, I’d fall into a diabetic coma from overdosing on delicious chocolate bunnies gifted to me from my grandparents (something about the chocolate in Canada tastes different, almost richer, than in the states).

It was an annual family ritual and one that was comforting.

And though I don’t practice Catholocism as an adult and live thousands of miles away from family, I still relish in the mark of the seasons, the fun (and yes, even the commercialized) take on holidays.

All the single bunnies, all the single bunnies...now put yer ears up!

I love the pastels, the egg-dying, the Easter baskets and Easter egg hunts. The imagery of bunnies and chicks.

Couple o'chicks

And especially Easter peeps and Cadbury mini eggs (don’t eat the former, but I devour the latter).

Not the angry bunnies!!!!

Yes, I love the kitsch that has been “Hallmarked” into most of our holidays.  And while it may offend those who are devout (and I can certainly understand why), I think it’s fun for the rest of us to mark the seasons.

An alliance; much better!

And though I don’t really decorate seasonally, I like to photograph the kitsch that makes up our holidays.  So hope you enjoy some silly photos I took a couple years ago.  They still make me giggle.

Whatever it means to you…hope you have a nice Easter :)

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Sure we love to go out and eat, go to the movies, do all that entertainment stuff that most folks do on Fridays.  But the fact that:

a) we live almost an hour from everything…

b) we are still keeping watch on our budget and building our savings after I left my corporate job a year and a half ago…

c) and that Friday nights are really our Tuesday nights (we both work weekends and have mid-week days off)…

We stay home, watch TV, catch up on household tasks just like a regular weeknight.  But last night I finally got to something on my creative to-do list that I’ve been wanting to do for many months – make art cards with pin ups.

Yes, I adore the beautiful, sassy pin ups of the 30′s, 40′s and 50′s (perhaps it goes along with my love of antiques and that era?).  And a while back I started making greeting cards, but couldn’t seem to finish a batch.  Lately I’ve had a hankering for creating some original ACEO’s – Art Card Editions and Originals – basically mini pieces of art (about the size of a baseball card that are popular for collectors).

Some are certainly more innocent than others…

And some are, well, sassy…

And that folks, is how I spend my Friday nights…making innocent and sassy art cards!  (By the way, cards were made using paperboard saved from photo paper packages, scraps of paper from my favorite scrap bins and upcycled images).

Enjoy ;)

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Don’t have a lot to report as I’ve been keeping up with orders and doing a lot of shop maintenance.  It doesn’t help that the USPS recently raised first class rates which means that I’ve had to go back and raise shipping rates on some items and recently I’ve really cracked down on my ROI spreadsheet and realized that I was basically losing money on some of the items I was selling after all the fees were taken out (that’s a pretty sobering reality but a necessary one for any small business owner).

I did manage to add a couple new items to my goodies shop (yes, still playing with my vintage ledger sheets!):

I’m planning on making some new gift tags this weekend made out of reused pizza/cereal boxes and thrifted twine; look forward to sharing with you next week :)

And some more options to my art shop as well as new art stickers:

And that is about it..keeping busy with no complaints.  Hope you have a great weekend!

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