Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Hope everyone is enjoying their Halloween. I am armed and ready at the door with my basket of treats for all the little spooks that are brave enough to ring the doorbell. My DH is hoping not too many kids come so that he can have the leftovers. . .do they ever outgrow Halloween???

And after you sleep off your sugar high from today's festivities, be sure to check back here tomorrow for some exciting news!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Tidy Up Tuesday {A Continuation of Organization Monday}

I was up early this morning to get a head start on my Studio Project. Yes, this is my it any wonder why I have been working at the dining room table lately? Now to be perfectly honest, a lot of the stuff in this picture has been placed there during the organizational and sorting process, so that makes it look even worse than it actually is. But still, it was a pretty much unusable surface.
As it gets closer to sunrise, you can see some progress. . .along with the actual surface of the desk! Ta-da! The desk is now clear, clear and tidy! All ready to work on some cool, new projects...Yay!
The little draw unit above is a piece I bought several years ago from Target. On it I keep my collection of vintage salt shakers filled with glitter, a pink glass goblet filled with tiny paper flowers, a vintage pink glass refrigerator box which holds note paper, a sweet votive holder from Anthropologie and an old Holly Hobby porcelein egg given to me by my mother when I was a child which offers daily dose of inspiration - "The time to be happy is now."
Here is my tool box which sits on my desk and contains my tools of the trade. It's an antique sewing machine drawer adorned with a wooden scroll work piece and painted a heavenly shade of blue, which happens to match the wall paint perfectly.
I've got a question for all of you. . .how to you organize the holiday themed items you use in your creations? Do you keep them separated by holiday or just incorporated them with the every day items or do you do something else with them?
Well, I've got a lot more to accomplish in here, so I'd better get back to work before I lose my momentum!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Organization Monday

I am not at all good at this kind of thing. I should be since I am a Virgo and by nature Virgos are supposed to be great at keeping things organized. But whenever I try to organize a space, I seem to make a bigger mess than I started with . . . and have less room to put things back. How is that possible? Above is a conglomeration of stuff that is in "limbo-land" while I try to figure out what to do with it all. By the looks of things, I may not even keep half of it as I am quickly running out of storage space. I have way too much stuff as you can see, but it is so hard to part with anything because I have that typical, "I may need it someday" mentality. That way of thinking is just so paralyzing for me and I end up not making any progress at all. I have discovered over the years, the supplies I tend to use the most in my artwork are the ones that I can easily see. If it is stashed away in a box or behind something else, it is out of sight, out of mind for me. The problem is when you have a teeny-tiny space you can't have very much out in full view, so therein lies my dilemma.

I have made a little bit of progress, as you can see above. I have three of these shelving units inside the closet. (We removed the closet doors years ago to accomodate these units.) There currently are doors on the shelving units, which I am considering taking off. The Rachel Ashwell fabric showing on the right side is actually curtains which I have hung over the closet so I can hide it all if I want. The top shelf shows 2 of my paper scrap drawer units. There are two more on the shelf above. I throw all my little scraps of leftover papers into these color coded drawers. This system works great for me when I am working on a collage and need some pink paper, I just take out the pink drawer, bring it to my desk and make a selection. Because these drawers work so well for me, I went out and bought more of them to organize some of my vintage ephemera items. The boxes on the bottom shelf hold things like my melting pot and beeswax, glass and metal pieces, etc.
The jar pictured above is an important piece in my art room as it holds a fresh supply of pink peanut M&M's. Each year during Breast Cancer Awareness Month these beautifully colored M&M's hit the store and I buy up a bunch to replenish my jar. Of course, they don't last me an entire year. Sometimes I fill the jar with pink strawberry cheesecake Jelly Bellys or pastel colored dutch mints when the pink M&M's are not available. Afterall, a girl's got to have a little sustenance to keep her going during those late night creative sessions. . . or in this case, late night organizing sessions.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Keeping My Word

I did what I said - I stayed home all day yesterday working on my projects! I am finished with one, but have more to do on others. I can't believe I stayed inside with the weather being as beautiful as it was. I did go out on the deck to take photos of my project and I really didn't want to go back inside. A bit too windy to play with paper out there, otherwise I would have moved my latest mess on the dining room table out to the patio table. After I finish one more project I definitely have to get into the studio and shovel things out of there. It's a perfectly lovely creative space - all pink roses and Rachell Ashwell-ish - that is if you could actually see any of the decor. I think I just have to accept that this is going to be a constant battle for me. I was looking through Aby and Whitney's new book, The Organized and Inspired Scrapbooker and I couldn't believe that there are people out there with such tidy art spaces...oh, they were gorgeous and organized. My studio is teeny-tiny and I have way too many supplies for such a small room. I read somewhere that you should treat your art supplies like your closet - if you haven't used things in the past year, chances are you probably will never use them. Only keep what you truly love! Believe me, I'm working on it. :)

Just a reminder - all my Halloween items are on sale in my Etsy Shop. You can check them out here.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Fall Color

Here is a digital layout that I put together this morning after downloading the free Harvest Spice kit from Shabby Princess. It's fun to play around with digital elements because it is quick and I don't have to risk my life getting supplies out of the disaster-zone I call my studio. Of course I am just trying to avoid the real work I have to take care of. I have one more page to complete on a round-robin I am participating in and I always seem to procrastinate on the last part of projects that I enjoy. I guess I don't want to see them come to an end. So today I am going to avoid the temptation to leave the house and attempt to finish up all the loose ends on several creative endeavors I have started. I will try to forget that it is a gorgeous, crisp autumn day. Forget that there are quite a few intriguing yard sales listed in today's newpaper. Forget that I have a taste for the pumpkin cheesecake at the Barnes & Noble Cafe. Forget that Target had the cutest pink princess phone in their ad this week. Forget all that and force myself get something done around here!!! Wish me luck!
P.S. Those are wild turkeys grazing with the deer in back of our cottage.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Work in Progress

More peeks at my "secret project." I still have more work to do on it, but it's coming along nicely.

We went up the the cottage on Friday and came back Saturday. We finally got the incidental and annoying details repaired by the builder, so we had the locks changed on the house. We also brought up more flagstone for the patio and path to the front door. Laying those stones out in a pleasing pattern certainly is time consuming. It's like working on a gigantic jigsaw puzzle. We did get the path laid out, but we need more stones to complete the patio. Everything takes so much longer when you are working on something out in the "boonies" where the usual stores and resources are not available. Patience is not exactly a virtue of mine as I like to see more immediate results.

We came home on Saturday because we had tickets to see Jewel in concert that night. My DH and I discovered we liked her music after watching a concert special of hers on PBS a few months ago. I asked my daughter to borrow all her Jewel CD's so I could download them onto my iPod and have been listening to her songs ever since. The concert was in a smaller venue which was nice. But she sang with a full orchestra back-up. We expected her to come out in her usual blue jean attire, but she was dressed up looking so demure in a darling little black and white dress. However, her voice and range) is anything but demure...she can really belt out the tunes!

Well, I'm off to run some errands and stop at Blick to pick up some new Golden glaze colors to play with that Corey Moortgat mentioned in her new book. Have a great day!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

This and That

Thank you all for your sweet comments on the previous post. My friend is back at home and doing pretty well. She is going through her mother's things as she is trying to vacate her retirement home apartment as soon as possible, since we all know how costly those places can be. She is experiencing some laughter as well as tears when she discovers things her mother hung on to. It is a difficult thing to have to do so soon after someone leaves us, but I believe this is all a process we must go through in order to move on. Feelings and emotions are something we shouldn't shy away from.

I've been keeping busy catching up on some projects around here. One of them is pictured above but it is a "secret" so I can't share the entire piece with you yet. My studio has never looked worse - in fact it is so bad that yesterday I almost injured myself trying to reach around the piles of stuff that seems to grow everyday. I have expanded my work to the dining room since I no longer can see the surface of my desk. Now the same is true for the dining room table. I will have to do some serious tidying up tomorrow as my sister-in-law is coming for a visit.

I went to the bookstore yesterday to find a book that was mentioned on Oprah the other day. Of course anything mentioned on Oprah is an immediate sellout, so I was not successful on finding that book. However I did find this book by Corey Moortgat and I am really loving it so far. Corey's style is so distinctive and she writes about how it has evolved over the years into what it is today. There's lots of great collage techniques in it too.

Well, I've got to brush and floss my teeth now as I have an appointment with the dentist in a half hour. See ya!

Sunday, October 14, 2007


Those of you who read my blog know how excited I was that my best friend was coming to town for a visit. Actually she was coming in to attend her husband's high school reunion this weekend, but whatever reason they come into town, they always reserve a few days to spend with my family. My friend arrived Tuesday night and on Thursday morning she received a phone call with the sad news of her mother's passing. It was not at all expected, however she was 94 years old. She died in her sleep during the night, which is the way that most of us hope to go when our time comes. Unfortunately my friend was not able to get a flight home until Saturday and I could sense her feeling of helplessness at being stranded here. (And did you know, airlines no longer offer bereavement rates due to people using them when they really didn't need to. As the saying goes, one bad apple spoils it for everyone) Of course the reunion plans were cancelled and we spent her remaining time here together reminiscing about the past and eating. . .I think we ate in 3 days what we normally eat in an entire week!

My birthday was last month and my friend's mother, Mildred sent me the card pictured above - the last one I will receive from her. It is one that she made herself out of violets carefully cut from fabric and glued meticulously in layers onto card stock. Mildred was in charge of sending birthday and get well cards (handmade of course) to the residents in her retirement home. Mildred and I shared a love of crafting and card making, something that my friend is not at all handy at. This evening I got a call my friend, who spent the day going through things at her mother's apartment. She told me she found a drawer of handmade cards I had sent her mother through the years for various occasions.She had saved them all. I was so touched to know that such a small and simple act meant so much to another person. I guess we just never know how much day to day kindness can mean to other people.

My friend will get through this loss, as I did when I lost my mother at an early age 31 years ago. We all get through painful times eventually. My aunt (Mom's sister) is still going strong today at 95 years old and she has been my surrogate mom for all these years. We are very close even though she lives 1000 miles away. Mildred's passing has made me all too aware of my aunt's mortality due to their similar ages. It's something I rather not think about, but it haunts me all the same.

I think the lessons to be learned from these past few days is first - appreciate the people around us everyday, all the time. And second - those random little acts of kindness are appreciated more than we can ever know. Both of these are things I have known all along, but sometimes we need a reality check to bring them to the forefront of our daily lives.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

And The Winners Are. . .

And now for the moment you have all been waiting for - the BIG drawing for the fabulous prizes. . .

Drawing #1 for the Little Witch Hazel Bottle. . . She randomly picks a name. . .
And the first prize goes to the beautiful and talented Alison Gibbs from Creative Arts & Craft! (the crowd cheers!!)

Drawing #2 for the Black Cat Lantern. . . Again, she dips her hand in the bowl. . .
And the winner is the lovely and creative Christi Snow from Altered Ambitions! ( the crowd roars!!)
And finally, Drawing #3 for the "Batty In There" Door Hanger. . . One last plunge into the bowl. . .
And our last winner of the evening is none other than the wonderful and artistic Becky from Heart In My Hand! (The crowd goes wild!!)

Ok ladies - if you'd be so kind to email your address to me here, I will mail these prizes right out to you so you can enjoy them before Halloween arrives!!

And as a thank you to everyone for helping me celebrate my 300th blog post, I am having a sale in my Etsy shop on all Halloween merchandise .

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Tag, You're It!

The drawing for my 300th Post Giveaway will be Wednesday, October 10th. If you haven't signed up yet, you can do so by clicking here and leaving a comment. I won't be drawing the names until late Wednesday night so you still have time to enter!

A while ago I was tagged by the talented Maria and amazing Miss*Laurence to tell 7 random things about myself. Oh dear, why do I always have a hard time with these kind of things? I always think of myself as pretty much an open book, so trying to think of random things that I do or like that nobody knows about me is a bit difficult. But I dug deep and these tidbits may not be very exciting but here they are anyway. . .

1. My daughter became engaged over the weekend....Yikes! Can that even be possible?????

2. My "bestest friend" in the whole wide world is coming into town this evening.

3. Unlike most of the population, I don't like to walk barefoot. . .wearing flip-flops is about as bare as my feet get.

4. I used to sell Longaberger Baskets many, many, MANY years ago back when that dear daughter that I mentioned above was a toddler!

5. I share the same birthday as Grandma Moses (the same date, NOT year!)

6. I think it would be fun to star in a Broadway musical - nevermind that I don't sing or dance!.

7. I want to take conversational French lessons someday - 2 years in high school just wasn't enough.

Well, I am off to tidy up a bit around here for my friend's visit. We're going into the city today (Chicago) to roam around and shop and eat!

Monday, October 08, 2007


Everybody seems to be putting a festive Halloween banner on their blog so I thought I would join in on the fun! I did some playing around and came up with this banner, but not to worry - my sweet little bluebird banner that Heather Bluhm made for me will return soon. In fact, if you want to add a holiday banner to your own blog you can contact Heather here or here and she'll whip one right up for you!

Don't forget, there's still a few days left to enter my giveaway - click here for details.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Date Night

If you haven't signed up for my giveaway yet. . .well, what are you waiting for? You can sign up by clicking here and leaving a comment.

Friday night is date night around our house. Sometimes we take in a movie. Sometimes we go out to dinner. And sometimes we go to the bookstore for coffee and dessert. Last night was a bookstore date because I had a very generous birthday gift card to Barnes & Noble that was burning a hole in my purse waiting to be spent. I always check out the arts & crafts section first to see if any new titles have come in. Lately I have been disappointed to see the same books sitting on the shelves, especially when I know for a fact that some great new ones have just come out. But last night was different. . .it was a book bonanza in the arts & crafts section! I found three new books and a fourth one in the home decor section. . .woo-hoo!

Amy Butler's Midwest Modern is a real feast for the eyes. I first heard of Amy Butler's designs when shopping for paper at a scrapbook store. Then I started seeing her patterns at the fabric stores. And now this book. . . well, let me tell you, even if you are not a fan of the modern, clean line look I think you will still be amazed at the simple, fresh looks inspired by nature that fill this book.

Altered Curiosities, Living the Creative Life and Mixed Media Collage are books that I have been anxiously waiting to find on the book shelf since I have read such glowing reviews on all three. I think I know what I will be doing this weekend. . .
Speaking of books, I recently was introduced to a website by Heather called Shelfari. It's a great little site where you can list all your favorite books that you've read (or hope to read), read book reviews, and chat with other members about all things literary. You can see my bookshelf here. If you decide to join, let me know so I can add your name to my list of friends.

Friday, October 05, 2007

21 Day Journal {Final Day!}

Wow! I can't believe it has been 21 days already, can you? The time just flew by and now that we are at the end I'm feeling a little sad. It's been an amazing journey. I think I have learned how to keep JOY in my life and not get so down on myself. Or at least when I'm feeling blue, I can handle it better and know what to do to get myself out of those funky moods. I have met some amazingly supportive and creative people on this trip (you guys know who you are) and I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart since without their positive comments I would never have made it all the way to the end of this challenge. And a huge hug goes out to Rhonna, who organizes these challenges, plays right along with us, and offers the most positive (and beautiful) thoughts for us to use as a jumping off point every day.

"Victory" quote block above designed by Rhonna Farrer (artist extraordinaire!)

P.S. I have a GIVEAWAY going on right now. Just leave a comment on the previous post to be eligible for the drawing.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

300th Post & Giveaway!

Well, this is THE DAY! It's my 300th blog post! I started this blog about a year and a half ago and I can't tell you how much it has changed my life. Since becoming an "artful" blogger, I have met so many new friends, learned a ton of new techniques, taught myself a lot about HTML and Photoshop, discovered countless creative websites, shops and blogs, been able to "chat" with many of the artists that I had only read about in books, and even opened my own online etsy shop. It's been an amazing ride and I am looking forward to continuing the journey and expanding my horizons even more!

In honor of this special day, I thought I would host a little GIVEAWAY as a thank you for all the generous support and encouragement you all have given me throughout the past 18 months. Just leave a comment at the bottom of THIS post and I will draw three names on the evening of October 10th (my daughter's birthday!) for the following prizes:

1st Prize

2nd Prize

3rd Prize

One of the things that prompted me to start a blog was so I could participate in one of Rhonna's 21 Day Challenges. And here I am 300 posts later participating in another of her challenges! And this has been my best one yet. . .simple and stress-free. With only two days left, here is my journal pages for Days 18, 19 and 20. You can see the entire "Choose Joy" journal here.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Autumn Is In The Air

Photo by Marilyn Collins
Happy first day of October! I love this month with all it's glorious colors bursting forth. It's also the month my daughter was born and my mother too. What could be better than that? We went up to the cottage this weekend for some R & R and nature's colors were starting to show. Inspiration was everywhere with pumpkins, gourds, apples, and leaves of every shade of red, yellow, orange, and brown. Even the sunset over the harbor was a colorful display.

Photo by Marilyn Collins

I put together the backgrounds for Days 15 and 16 of my 21 Day Challenge journal before we left on our trip. That way I could quickly plug in the quote and journaling. I sometimes had trouble keeping up in previous 21 Day challenges because of interruptions to my regular routine. As a result, I would get behind and become overwhelmed trying to play catch up. Working in the journal became a drag after that. So to avoid that problem this time, I tried to plan ahead for these types of bumps in the road. There wasn't a quote posted from Rhonna when I completed this page, so I just did my journal without it on Day 16, which is another trick of mine to keep me on track. I always print and cut out Rhonna's daily quotes and paste them to the facing page anyway, so when she did post it, I added it to the journal then.
Note: My 300th blog post is coming up this week, so be sure to check back for the giveaway I have planned!

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