Monday, July 30, 2007

Be Still My Heart!

Remember just a few entries back, where I bemoaned the fact that Victoria Magazine first changed content, then went the way of the dodo bird? Remember that I said it was my respite, my monthly mini vacation? Someone heard me. Well, maybe not just me...or maybe it was the realization that they were the frontrunner, created a demand for the product, atmosphere and decor they promoted, encouraged a gentler lifestyle, developed a huge following and then changed format and bailed at absolutely the wrong time - in my opinion, of course. Matters not, it appears that Victoria is returning. Can I tell you that my heart and spirit needed this? Please let it be as wonderful as it once was...

Tropical Ohio

We were told that using "pond dye" would tint our pond water a lovely color, plus interfere with the sunlight, thus retarding the growth of algae. This would be a good thing, as we have been doing weekly algae harvests. We put in less than recommended, and still got this vibrant blue green color in the water. Dear husband thinks it's a little too fake, but I love it! I asked if it came in any other colors, like fuschia or violet, or maybe even lime green. Dear husband was not amused. Isn't it pretty? (Now if the grass would green up, just think how it would look!)

Saturday, July 28, 2007

How Good is Your Word?

Something that's always been important to me is being as good as one's word. In my own life, this exhibits itself in everything from being on time for appointments, to answering questions as thoroughly as I'm able, to playing it straight and not trying to maneuver or do fancy "negotiations."

I cannot tell lies. I have a face that tells everything, and besides, I have so much in my head all the time, if I'm not honest, I can't remember what stories I've told. Negotiations and manipulation make me highly uncomfortable. Thus, I don't ever want to wheel and deal for a car, and I hate negotiating a house price.

My life with my dear husband is all the better because he has only one rule in his life...don't say one thing and do another. Don't agree to be home at 10:00 and show up at 10:15 (my daughter learned that the hard way). Be true to your word, true to yourself, and we won't have any problems. If he makes a commitment, he sticks to it, come hell or high water. He's one of the most honorable people I know.

We do well together. Lately, though, we aren't doing so well in what the world, and doing business in that world, is becoming. We still believe people mean what they say. We're going to have to make some adjustments.

Photo above - the house in NC.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Necklace storage

I was sorting out my jewelry box and found that my necklaces were getting crowded and tangled. I don't really like most ways of storing jewelry. While I was thinking about that, I looked over at the walls, and realized that these little trellises I bought years ago, which are hanging on the walls of the bed alcove, looked really empty. I loaded up the two on my side of the bed, and since doing so I wear my jewelry more often.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Martha Washington & The Shady Glade

Last year I had two of these gorgeous Martha Washington geraniums in my special pots on the deck railing. I tried to winter them over by putting them in the walk-out family room and keeping them watered, but I lost all but one small part of one of them. It finally came back enough to sprout some leaves and bloom. I can't remember the color name, but I think it's just beautiful.

Stepping back a bit, you can see the general shape, plus the unique (to geraniums) look of the leaves, too.

We are still in desperate need of rain. This is a view of the west end of the house, looking up from the pond. You can see how scorched and dry the hill looks. We have all new plantings below the deck railing, and Gerry has installed soaker hoses to make it easier to give them a good drink. (Yes, that's me at the railing.)
I spent a good chunk of time Saturday afternoon trimming and rearranging. I cut back the dogwood, the evergreen, and the pine that shadow the west side of the lower deck, then moved the little table & chairs, and switched around some pots. Here's a pic of Murphy, giving his stamp of approval on the new set-up. (Thank goodness he didn't give the rear-legged salute!)
Gerry took this photo of the table in the shady glade. Doesn't this look cool and peaceful?

Thursday, July 19, 2007


Tonight, after lots of dinner-time errands, I had just a small amount of playtime in the treehouse. I added a few more things to the "learning altered book" from Wendy's tutorial. When I decided to photo a bit, Starchild was still in the light cube, so I included her in a few shots, too. I decided I need a new folder called PIPs (Projects in Process) rather than DIPs (Dolls in Progress).

Here's a shot of both sides of the book, though it's not complete:

Side one:

Side two of the spread:

Book as background...
How about some artsy effects?
We got more rain today. Ahhhhhhhhh.....

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


It rained yesterday. Blessed, sweet, gentle, soaking rain. We hadn't had rain in over a month, and it was beginning to frighten me. I could deal with the lack of rain in a climate where that's the norm, but that's not the case here.

Even though we water regularly and maintain our plants well, there's just something different about real, honest-to-goodness rain. This morning, everything looked fresher and plumper and, well, happier!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Loft Storage

This Spring, we re-decorated our loft, which houses our home office. In the photo above, you can see how the room looked after we got the floor installed and the walls painted, but before the closet doors were hung and the desks moved back in. We had a contractor install the flooring, and also asked him to build a "box" in what had been an open space between the left-most closet and the kneewall of the loft. It was the silliest wasted space, but once a box was installed, it was the perfect place for the color laser printer. AND, rather than wasting the space inside the box, Gerry thought to have an opening/access from inside the closet. See it on the left side of the closet?

Now that we're done decorating and have moved back in, the closet houses some off-season clothing, but mostly it's filled with storage bins, file cabinets, and office supplies. I store printer paper there (my computer desk is closest to this closet) and some spare purses on the shelf. As you can see by the photo below, Cosmo also thinks Gerry had a great idea.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Almost Done!

I worked on Go Gently Starchild quite a bit today. Of course, I spent nearly two hours teaching myself how to thread the serger, and learning that the lower looper didn't want to work with decorative thread.
All that remains to be done are shoes/sandals for her feet, and eyelashes. This doll isn't going to be heavily embellished with beads and sashes and embroidery. The effect here, I think, comes more from the layers of fabrics. Initially, I thought she'd be a little more glitzy, but her demeanor is such that she told me that all she needs are small bits of sparkle, not big jolts of glitz. Incidentally, since you aren't here to check for yourself, yes, she has panties. They are pristine white, real silk.

Last night I used Dye-Na-Flow in three different colors to tint the cotton crochet lace at her wrists. There's also a bit of lace under the wrap, at the bodice, but you can't really see it here.

My dear friends on the FDA list gave me tips and tricks for doing her hair. In the end, since I wasn't able to go out and buy a Burger King Oreo shake and use the Big Blue Straw for hair rollers (something new to seek and gather for the treehouse!), I just misted and fluffed the lamb plate I used to wig her, trimmed it to a bob shape, and it worked out well. I might just finish this doll tomorrow, after all these months.
In other news, I want you to know that Gerry just hugged me and told me I'm wrong. (I can hear the gasps from here.) I guess my announcement that "Flippin' Big Brother Ralph Nader lives in my computer" triggered the sympathy hug. I think he just didn't want me to see him biting his lip.

By Popular Demand

By my *husband's* popular demand, I must add two more photos of the abandoned buildings mentioned in yesterday's entry. These are his two favorites, particularly the first:

Don't you just love the way the building is dwarfed by the tree/shrub next to it in the second photo?

And this one is another of my favorites because of the no-longer warm and comforting hearth:

Love that weathered wood. Oh, the things I'd love to do with a stack of that weathered siding.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Empty Places

When we were still living in NC, we were struck by the number of houses empty and abandoned. Most of them looked as though the owner just gave up and walked away. Rarely did you find a newer, bigger, or better house sharing the property. Still they stood, glassless, paintless, often with the original garden plantings gone wild nearby.

My husband wanted to compile a photo book of all the empty places. We have a huge file of those photos...maybe we'll still put it together someday. These are just a couple of the many in our files.
They make me want to imagine a family for them...

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


I came across these jpg files on my computer...something I had done a while ago using to make and save the images. My thinking was that I might use them later for backgrounds or possibly print on fabric and use the fabric in dolls and other art. All you have to do is go to the link above, type in a word or phrase you'd like to use, and the typo generator does the work -- tying together the words with images found on the net. Note the word "radiant" in the piece above. It rather ties in with my thoughts and posting with the self-portrait doll, no?

It was fun to work on these, using many of the phrases I have as part of my affirmations.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Self Portrait Doll

Thanks once again to Monica Magness for providing such a great doll blank, and a fun challenge. Just a hint for the rest of you -- I get a daily email of my favorite eBay sellers items, and can watch closely when Monica uploads a new "lot" of doll bodies, or new shapes, or the latest challenge doll.

Here's what I wrote to Monica when I completed my doll:

Part of my (constant) work on myself is daily affirmations. Though I have a list that I go through, I decided to focus on two of them for my self-portrait. The most important is "I will satisfy my inner gypsy." Though that is my main theme with the doll (notice the colorful skirt, with multi-layers and great twirl-ability) a secondary theme is one of my other affirmations, "I am radiant." That's how I put to use the crown supplied and was able to use gold and copper and beads.
Arms are wrapped with beads, and the legs are clear acrylic straws with beads at top and bottom (like joints) with fine shoecharms at the end. (The legs can be hard to see -- they are poking out beyond the fibers). In one photo, you will notice that under the skirt, at the belly area is a face...gut instinct. (Yes, that's my face at the top, adhered to a button, and surrounded with gilt and a copper-colored crown.)
(See the cute shoe charms at the end of the legs?)

Sunday, July 08, 2007


I received a visit from Iowa Gardening Woman. A return visit to her blog reminded me of the glorious daylilies grown and sold by a couple who lived near us in NC. The photos above were taken in their yard and at their daylily farm, about four years ago. Aren't they glorious? (You might want to click on the photos and view them larger, to get the full impact.)

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Hot & Dry

...but the portulacas love it.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Independence Day

Here in the US, it's Independence Day. My day has been filled with relaxation and art projects (along with woofing pups and a cowering cat, thanks to the neighborhood kids' firecrackers). I finished a set of valances for the kitchen windows, and was about to work on one of two dolls that need finishing...or maybe my self-portrait doll...or maybe a vest and cropped pants set for myself.

While I was trying to decide which one to work on, I perused the two most recent issues of Cloth Paper Scissors. I was reminded of something, when it comes to my favorite mixed media pieces -- I like the ones where the artist uses supplies and images with exuberance. I like layers and texture and multiples and surprises.

I don't do that; I'm stingy. Don't get me wrong - when it comes time to send a goody packet to another artist, I stuff it full. I cut off lengths of my favorite ribbons and tuck them into the corners. I take a bunch of paper flowers from India, and split it down the middle with another artist/crafter, and find great joy when I see that she has used them with exuberance.

I admire exuberance. I don't like stingy why am I stingy with my materials when I create? I do not lack for materials. In addition to haunting local art and craft shops, and online sellers like Joggles, Sky Blue Pink, and American Science & Surplus, I'm a regular participant in "squishy exchanges," in which mixed media goodies are traded between those of us who enjoy playing in this stuff. I send and receive a lot of squishies. I also beg for broken jewelry from friends and relatives, and I save all the fake credit cards, CDs and cases from AOL, and every bit of used postage that come through my mailbox. I buy beads, fibers, fat quarters, and vintage buttons by the lot on eBay. There is no lack in my treehouse (note but one wall in the photo above).

My inner critic is alive and well. Attempting to follow along with an altered book tutorial, I find myself displeased with the layout and materials I've chosen. The few I've stuck down are in the center and look like they don't like each other. I take a tiny piece of one small portion of pretty paper from the drawer -- the drawer that contains about 200 pieces of pretty paper -- and test it at one corner of the page. Nope. I'm immobilized, for what will Wendy (the author of the tutorial) think of my poor attempt at following her guidance?

Well, first of all, Wendy won't see it unless I show it to her. Secondly, if I use up all of the pretty paper and never find another piece like it, it's not as though I don't have plenty of other options, nor do I lack willingness to go look for something new. This has to be some strange mental state brought on by being the obedient child of a mother who was a COD (child of the depression). Side note -- my mother could scrape a mayonnaise jar cleaner than anyone of the face of the earth.

Whatever the cause, I have set my personal challenge for the month of July. I will USE my stash of goodies. I will use said goodies with exuberance and joy. And whatever I screw up is my secret! (I guess that's a different kind of independence.)

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Glorious Soap

Fine soap is truly one of life's great fragrant flowers, good chocolate, the laughter of children. Good soap satisfies the senses: touch, with the feel of sleek lather, silky bubbles, and clean skin; scent, with all the options of fruits, flowers, spices, and blends; sight, with swirls and curls, opacity and translucency. The touch, sight, and scent of a good bar of soap is a balm to the soul.
I am fortunate to make good soap, to always have access to fine soap. I find myself looking with pity at those who throw a mega pack of some ECS (evil corporate soap) into their grocery cart, with no idea what they are missing. As much as I enjoy a warm shower in just about any circumstance, knowing the shower promises soap with beautiful fragrance, abundant lather, that provides happy, nourished skin, transforms a mundane day.
I am fortunate to have developed a following for my soaps, to the point where even though I no longer have a storefront, I have people who track me down, and buy their old favorites, and test the new offerings.
I am also fortunate to have retained a good wholesale account and a B&B account back in North Carolina, where this whole hobby evolved into a small business with a life of its own. (Visit Ann's Tiques in Littleton, or stay at The Ivy B&B in Warrenton.)
And thanks to the internet, I am fortunate to be part of a community of soapmakers who care, share, tip, and trade.

What you see above is the result of two swaps on the Soapnuts mailing list. This spring I hosted an herbal soap swap, and just this past week, I received my share of the Ninth Annual Soapnuts State Soap Swap. I am now the proud owner of 44 bars of soapers' best efforts in formulating, creating, and packaging/presenting. Soap swaps are a bit like the cookie exchanges of old. Each participant makes and submits a soap to suit the theme, shares the recipe, and gets a soap in return from each of the other participants. Aren't they lovely? Do you have any idea what a basket of soap like this would cost in the retail world?

I've used up a few of the herbal soaps already -- they were just too delicious to resist. Still, look at this *abundance* of fine soap. I feel like a pirate with a chest of gold dubloons!

Much as I love swapping with other soapers, and experiencing new soap formulas and specialty oils, I also am lucky enough to swap soaps and lotions for dolls. Thanks to the interest of other dollmakers, I have some fine dolls in my collection, some top notch patterns and face molds, all traded for soap. Here are just a few I've received in payment for my soap-babies:

By the way, I have all these soaps in a basket so you can see the wealth and variety. However, all of these soaps WILL get used, and I would expect that those who get my soaps also use them. If you ever buy, trade or beg a soap from me, and then I find out that you are keeping it on the back of the toilet because it's "too pretty to use; I want to save it" I will personally send the hard-water gods to your house, and life will never be the same. Soapmakers will tell you that they put a lot of time and effort into developing the right, nourishing, lasting, gleaming formula, and the very idea that you would "save" it on the back of the toilet like some sort of house dust chia pet is disgusting.

Buy and use good soap. To borrow a phrase from L'Oreal, you're worth it!