Monday, December 6, 2010

Done! Complete! Finished!

Good Morning!

I think I am finally heading towards the end of my Christmas projects!  Phew.  Nothing like stretching them out until right up to the mailing deadline.  I thought I would share some more before and afters.  I never remember to take photos while I am in the process, so I don't see too many tutorials coming from me in the future.  Oh well.  I am happy to answer any questions though.

I guess I'll start with the ornaments.  I started with a paper mache ornament form from Hobby Lobby, and sculpted a Santa face with using Claycrete (papier mache or paper pulp).  After it dried for a couple of days, I painted and glittered away.  Here are the two I completed:


I also worked with paper and Styrofoam cones to make a full-sized Santas.  They take forever to dry, but the finishing process is pretty simple.  I like to use the small bottles of acrylic paint (whichever is on sale) for the detail work, and I typically seal them with a water-based satin varnish for durability and a slight shine.  I worked with more glitter than usual this year (Martha Stewart brand except for the tree Santa).  I now have glitter EVERYWHERE!



I had hoped to get more done, but I found it really hard to work around our two rowdy dogs.  I tend to wind up working at either the dining room table or the coffee table (which is right at tail-swiping level).  Not ideal for sure.  I have got to come up with a better craft space solution!  Maybe for next year, eh?

Now I just need to get my entire house decorated and finish my shopping.  No pressure, no pressure at all.   

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Happy December!

I've been slaving away again (ha!), working on some more Santas.  It's an exciting life, I must admit.  All men, all the time...

The tree Santa, which will need some patch work (I was trying to speed up drying by putting them on a rack over a heating vent overnight.  Crack is whack, yo.), was made on a Styrofoam cone.  The other Santa was formed on a paper cone.  The paper cones are easier to work with, but I prefer the finished product I get using the Styrofoam.  

I decided to experiment this year with some paper mache ornaments I found at Hobby Lobby.  I'm hoping their faces don't dry up and fall off.  That would be bad.  Very bad.

I'm not sure that I care for this flat heart ornament.

A close-up of the cone Santa.  He might need a little patch work too.  Hopefully they will be dry enough to paint in a couple of days.

I don't know about anyone else, but I am so glad that it is finally December!  It always seems like one of those months that begins so full of promise, don't you think?  Whether or not that actually pans out is something else, but just the idea of possibilities is enough for me most years.   I still don't have any Christmas decorations out, but I figure I will be ahead of the game if I have them out before December 22nd.  I've managed to run pretty late the last few years (we were replacing flooring last year).  I will post some pictures once I get them up.  Until then, back to another afternoon with just me and my jolly men...  oh yeah.  

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Here Comes Santa Claus

I just wanted to post a quick update on the Santas I have been working on.  I finished the first one.

And here is a reminder of what he looked like before:

Sorry about the dark picture.  It is a little dark and gloomy here this morning, but I wanted to get the picture up before I get too busy later on.  One down... 

Eat More Ham

I love Thanksgiving.  It is definitely my all-time favorite holiday, even though it is usually just me and the kids anymore.  Most years, I get up early, put the turkey in the oven, and settle down to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade by myself.  You have no idea how much it pained me the six years I had to miss it when we lived in England!  I even have a favorite float, Tom the Turkey.

I don't know what it is about it, but it just makes me smile... and started yet another collection of mine.  Perhaps the collection was also influenced by the Steiff turkey that my mom had when I was growing up.

I sure would love to have one like it now!  I know it is kinda ugly, but it takes me right back to when I was little.  Instead, I have several Jim Shore Heartwood Creek turkeys that I love almost as much. 

I also have a couple of random turkeys, such as this glass candy dish and a set of Christmas ornaments/placecard holders.

My favorite has to be the turkey that my mom and I painted in 1996 while they were visiting us in Oklahoma. We were looking for something to do (we lived in a very small town), and found the paper mache forms at Walmart.  She was nervous about painting one, but I think they both turned out great.  I keep mine out all year (on a ceramic lettuce leaf plate).  

It figures that I prefer ham over turkey though, eh?  

I hope you all have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!  

Friday, November 19, 2010

Checking In

I know, I've been very quiet.  I've just had lots going on in my head lately... and I've started working on some projects.  Here is the start of the latest Santas (and a snowman for good measure):

I like to work with Styrofoam cones for the base (although you can use almost anything), and Amaco's Claycrete (paper pulp).  You just add water to the paper pulp and mix it up.  I tend to use my hands to do this even though the instructions say not to.  Then I just slap it on the cones, adding a little at a time, and smoothing it out with my fingers as I go.  Sometimes I use actual carving tools, sometimes I don't.  For these, I was working with a metal BBQ skewer and a plastic spoon because they were handy.  Whatever works is my motto.  Once you are finished with your figure, they just need to air-dry for a couple of days before they can be painted.  I'm not sure how many I will get done this year since my normally winter-dry hands are already in pretty bad shape from working with the clay.  It just seems to suck what little moisture there is right out of my hands.  I hate that.  I'd take a picture of them to share, but no one needs to see my cracked and bleeding cuticles.  Lovely, eh?  :)    

Sunday, October 24, 2010

My Handiwork

I definitely wouldn't call myself an artist.  I am just someone who makes stuff for fun.  I really like to work with crochet, decoupage, soft sculpture, paper clay, and polymer clay.  Unfortunately, I tend to give most of it away, so I don't have a lot of photos to share, but here are a few of the things I have done.

Some of the doilies I crocheted.  Call me old-fashioned.  
I don't care. 

A wish box I made for myself when I was feeling a little lost.  It did help.

A ring box and postcard box for Jeana's travel-themed wedding.

This last set of photos I will put after the jump because they are a tad risqué.  :)  I'll have to see what else I can dig up later.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

It's the Final Countdown

It's almost here.  Bran and Don's personal holiday... Halloween.  At least they thought it was when they were little.  They didn't understand why everyone didn't get to go door-to-door and be given candy on their birthdays too.  Silly boys.

Part of our mantel.

The other side.

All lit up at night, but taken prior to putting up the fake webbing (and Euthanasia's mask kept falling off).  Yes, we named our bust.  Doesn't everyone?  She was a Halloween decoration from Michael's that we picked up a couple of years ago, painted gold, and now leave out all year.   

We add masks to some of our stuff.


Some favorite plates.

Less than two weeks to go.......................

Friday, October 15, 2010

Show Us Your Life - Offices

This week, at Kelly's Korner blog, everyone is sharing their home office.  I wish I had an office.  We finally have a spare bedroom that could be used, but right now it is filled with some of my daughter's things while she is deployed.  Plus I share a computer with Bran (Word to the wise, the hooks on the back of the bathroom stall doors at Barnes & Noble will not hold the weight of a backpack full of text books and a brand new laptop.  That's all I'm saying about that, right Bran?).  Sigh.  So, until I can find a small desk to fit elsewhere in my house, in the kitchen it is.

Normally, the table and stools would be pulled out more into the room, but I was worried that our two Huskies were going to slam into it and send the computer flying (that is Penni in the photo above, Max was outside).  The two large plastic bins in the front of the picture hold dog food.  They go through both of those in a month.  I am soooo glad that I'm not the one who has to clean up the backyard!  The Coke cooler was a gift from Don, and stores our BBQ tools right now.  Oh, and the ceiling fan is copper and I can't live without it.   For anyone younger who wonders why their mothers insist on keeping their ceiling fans, I have an answer for ya.  Hello.......... hot flashes, people!  Must.  Have.  More.  Air.

Just a closer yet still blurry shot of my little corner of the world.  The table was a bargain from Cost Plus World Market because it was scratched.  I need to repaint it again.   I like the distressed look, but not that distressed.  The stools came from Target on clearance during one of their Global Bazaars.  They are surprisingly comfortable.  I bought some fabric to recover them (tiny red/white polka dot), but I'm still trying to figure out what I did with my electric stapler this summer in the mad dash to Jeana's wedding.  I have no clue.  I could have sent it home with my mother-in-law, for all I know.

This stool is supposed to be at the counter, but there isn't enough room right now, so we are using it to store dog stuff by the sliding door.  Awwww... she looks so innocent, doesn't she?  She's not.  She would eat my house if left home alone long enough.  I'm not exactly staying on topic here, but this is part of the reason why I am a cat person:


Mud, mud, and more mud.  Because we have Huskies and they like to do this...

And this...

... while running at full speed... both in and out of my house.  They also shed the equivalent of a small animal each and every single day.  We have fur where fur should never be found.  Fur and mud.  Maybe what I really need is a mud room, not an office? 

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are...

I had planned to do this post on Monday, October 11th.  I’ve bumped it up though because I am royally ticked off.  Please excuse me for ranting.

The Human Rights Campaign is running a Facebook app right now where you can donate your status to them in support of National Coming Out Day.  I wholeheartedly believe in this cause, so I willingly signed up. Yesterday a “friend” posted this in response to my latest status update:

ah.....don't think so, the Bible still says its a sin...and it's not going to change with the times, its rock solid 

WTF?  Really?  I’m all for intelligent conversation about our differing opinions, but how does a comment like that help anything?  Tell me what it is about a gay relationship that you personally find threatening.  Tell me about how it has impacted your home, your marriage, your life.  I’m a good listener.  But don’t just condemn it because some book told you it was wrong ~ and I’ll spare you my opinion on organized religion and Christianity in particular, m’kay?   

But maybe I should cool down and start at the beginning...

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

He was 13 years old that afternoon.  He wanted to talk.  Even though I was distracted, I could see it was important.  He started shaking.

“Mom, I’m.... I’m gay.”

“Is that all?  I thought you broke something!”

Relief flooded his face, and we both started laughing.  His announcement wasn’t a surprise.  I had suspected for a long time.  All I’ve ever wanted for my kids is for them to live in truth.  This was his.

Eventually, most of our extended family was told.  Some had reservations.

“He’s too young to know for sure.”

My response:

“Did you like boys when you were 13?  Well, so does he.”

I have no illusions that everyone will accept him for who he is.  I worry every day about some idiot out there choosing to take out their issues on my son simply because he is gay.  But for now, I am here for my son.  So are his siblings, including his straight twin brother.  We even threw him a surprise “Coming Out” party one year.


Today, he is a strong adult who is secure in who and what he is.  He recently graduated from college with degrees in Psychology, Sociology, and Women's Studies.... with honors... in 4 years.  I can't help but wonder how different his life might have been if he had felt he had to hide his true feelings and live life in the shadows.  I'm glad he didn't have to.

Bran, sweetie, I love you.  You are spectacular just the way you are.    

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

But back to the Facebook rant.  My "friend" continued to spout religious dogma at my page for a while last night.  One or more of my children might have been a little less than kind in response.  I can't say that I blame them.  I didn't go to her wall and post my personal opinions for her friends and family to see (man, this all sounds so junior high, doesn't it?).  But I am also not deleting it.  I want it there.  I want others to see how far we still have to go to before we will finally have equality and acceptance for everyone.  I'm hopeful that it will be in my lifetime.  Too many young adults have died recently thinking that there was no hope for them.  No hope for a better life.  They were so wrong.  If you personally know someone who might be at risk, please let them know that it does get better.  Oh, and please consider attending a National Coming Out Day rally tomorrow.  They will be occurring all over the country

As a parent, I have pretty simple wishes for my kids.  I want all three of my children to live happy, healthy lives.  I hope they all someday find the love of their lives, get married (legally!), have 2.5 kids, and live happily ever after.  Especially the 2.5 kids because I think I’ll be a fantastic grandma... and I'm selfish like that.  Are you listening, oh children of mine?

Note:  Bran gave me permission to post his story and photos.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Show Us Your Life - Kitchens

I was reluctant to post my kitchen on Kelly's Korner blog this week.  It isn't fancy.  It needs some cosmetic work.  It seems like everything in it has started to break all at the same time.  But we've had so much fun here, cooking and dancing together, that I've decided to bite the bullet and show it anyway.

This is the view I see all the time from my computer.  We replaced the counter and back splash 10 years ago, but the counter is starting to show some wear.  I would love to replace it with butcher block.  I took a few of the doors off, but I still need to trim out the openings.  I am hoping to paint the cabinets this winter.  Maybe.  I've been saying that for a while now.  I'm leaning towards antique white on the top cabinets, dark red on the bottom.

This is the other side of the kitchen.  We replaced the microwave not too long ago, but we haven't gotten around to fixing the missing tiles underneath.  Oops.  I'll have to get right on that.

I love the Coke handles, but they were discontinued before we finished buying enough for the entire kitchen.  Some of the lower cabinets have blue and white ceramic handles that I picked up at Hobby Lobby.

Here is another one of my accidental collections.  I have no clue how it started, but I love them.  I would show you my cute little bargain table and stools, but I can only handle so much embarrassment for one day.  Which is why I am posting this picture last and then scooting out of here.

All adult beverages were consumed by people of legal age

I've been living with college students.  I thought it was bad when my kids were little.  This is my reality some mornings.  Help me.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Accidental Collection

Ours started out innocently enough.  I was out of town helping to care for my mom after surgery, and Bruce was home with the kids.  His sister was coming for a visit the day after I was due back, and he was worried about our "eclectic" furniture looking shabby.  What is so wrong with a burnt orange couch from the 70's anyway?  So... he went shopping without me.  Big mistake.  Huge.  If you live with someone else, don't buy furniture without them.  Especially if you know they might have an opinion about it.  He wasn't going to tell me before I got home, but one of the kids spilled the news over the phone.  He bought a matching couch and love seat.

"Oh Jan, you are going to love them."

Yeah.  This is pretty close to what I came home to (we didn't take any pictures):

They were blue, which is my favorite color.  They also had a trellis pattern with tiny pink rosebuds, ruffled skirts, and oak trim.  They were also a very shiny velour that shed all over our clothes.  And just to top the whole thing off, he bought an afghan to drape over the back of the couch that he said matched perfectly.  An American flag afghan that he paid $50 for at a small boutique.  I was speechless when I walked through the door.  We ended up trading the furniture out for another set that we BOTH agreed on.  We kept the afghan because he loved it.  This is what we ended up with:

Bran with his rat tail circa 1997

You can see the afghan folded on the back corner of the couch.  It was normally draped all the way across the back.  My dad said he didn't know if he should salute our couch or sit on it.  My entire family thought this whole thing was so funny that for every single birthday, anniversary and Christmas from there on out, we were gifted with patriotic items.  Bruce loved it.  It grew on me over time.

After Bruce died and we moved out of base housing, I packed most of the Americana away, but it slowly started creeping back out again.  Especially anything with the Statue of Liberty on it.  Our first piece had been a Hallmark Christmas ornament that was given to Bruce one year:

The ornament is in the middle behind the yellow butterfly.

It plays the National Anthem when the tree lights are first turned on.  It cracks me up every single time.  Other items we have with Liberty on it include a bottle opener, tin sign, nesting doll set, glass ornaments, magnets, and even a small tomato cage.  My all time favorite is this one though:

A Statue of Liberty ice bucket.  I suppose it could be useful for a 4th of July party, but I keep it out year round.  I can't help myself.  It makes me smile.  

What kind of accidental collections do you have?