Thursday, January 31, 2008

I'm in Love With The Postman!

Shhhh....don't tell my DH, but I have a special place in my heart for the postman. He hand delivers such wonderful gifts right to my door....what a guy!!!! The package above arrived from my friend Mercedes in Spain! I first "met" Mercedes after I posted pics of my Winter Wishes book here. And then Mercedes was inspired to make her own version of the book here. And then she was seet enough to send me this lovely handmade Valentine greeting. . .
. . . along with these scrumtious collection of laces. Thank you Mercedes. ~ you are a sweetheart!
The second package her brought me was an order from Karen of Mrs. Kwitty's. All wrapped in a pink (handmade) box with a cute vintage tag. . .
. . . came this darling hand embroidered blue bird singing, "Love You." Surrounded with buttons on a felt heart. There is even a button detail on the back of the heart.

Isn't he the sweetest?
The final goodie that Mr. Postman handed me is this wonderful Monogram Journal that I ordered from Rebecca Sower. It has a clear acrylic cover and lots and lots of pages to fill up.

And again, I am a sucker for the details.

Since I received so much love in the mail yesterday, I thought it was time to pass on this "Spread the Love Award that sweet Dianna bestowed upon me last week.
She included the following instructions for passing this award along to other fellow bloggers:

"When you receive it (or a week or so after...I am hopeless!) you are in turn supposed to award it to someone else. The award is for spreading love, support, and blogginess to those people and blogs that make you happy and in turn, make others want to spread some of that good stuff around too*!* You are to then go to leave them a comment letting them know that you left them a little tidbit on your blog. When you send it out~you could get it back more than once! (if you're just that awesome)"

So without further adieu, (drum roll please) I ask the following inspiring people to "Spread the Love," by passing this award along to others ~ Cerri, Heather B, Holly, Karin, Jessi, Mercedes, Alison, and Heather K.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Inspired by Others

I finally got around to putting some things up on my inspiration board. . .you know, the one I cleared off here. It was getting a bit crowded and although I kind of liked it that way, it was hard to focus on any one thing. Actually the board reflected exactly the way the rest of the room was beginning to look, which is why I began the Big Clean Out in the first place.
Now the board has room for new things, but for the time being I have displayed some of my favorite swap items I've received. I really get a lot of inspiration from other people's art, don't you?
I also added some big pom-pom fringe which are held up by a pair of birds that Cerri (Little Pink Studio) surprised me with last year. I am in love with her glittery birdies!

Who (or what) is that behind the curtain you ask? These are the curtains which I used to replace the closet doors that we removed years ago. I orginally wanted to put the day bed in there, but figured I would loose out on too much storage space. That is one of my daughter's many formals from her high school days. I can't bear to part with them. . .mom is a bit sentimental. The slip is a vintage one I bought mainly for the lace, but it looked too pretty to cut up, so for now it hangs safely on a pretty padded hanger! Open the curtains and this is what you will find. . .three shelving units like this. They used to have doors on them, but I took those off recently too. What is this aversion I have to doors? They were just a hindrance as far as I was concerned, and since the curtain was there to hide the shelves I figured I'd get rid of the doors. I did save them in case I change my mind (which has been know to happen a time or two), but for now I am liking the easy access I have to my supplies.

This corner is on the left side of the day bed and I can hide all sorts of things here because it is less visible. I use a decoupaged metal and wire waste basket to hold rolls of paper. The rose paper covered boxes in the foreground are those paper valises you can get at places like Homegoods. They are handy for storing (or hiding) all sorts of treasures. To the right of the basket of paper rolls is the round table that I showed you here. I forgot to mention that although it looks all pretty and nice on top, it secretly holds more storage underneath the skirt.

The utility drawers shown below used to be hidden away behind the cupboard doors in the base of this hutch. But that proved too impractical because I had to keep getting on my hands and knees in order to find anything. And lots of time I have projects piled on the floor in front of the hutch so I couldn't even open the doors! So beauty gave way to practicality and the drawers were placed in full view. Someday I may get around to painting the blue ones white (or vice versa) but for now they will stay as they are.

The little JOY plaque is from Donna (Under the Red Roof) and although it was a Christmas gift, I am keeping it on display year round because I love the colors and it's nice being greeted by a little joy everyday. In the jar above it is one of Cerri's little Princess Birds which also was a gift. She is in the jar waiting for me to finish a project I am working on with her and the jar.

Speaking of jars, do you all love vintage blue mason jars as much as I do? I think the color is divine and I love the weathered zinc lids too. I use a lot of these up at the cottage too because that aqua blue color is a big part of the color scheme there. I can't resist pretty things that can double as storage pieces.

Below the jars are the shelves my DH built me years and years ago for my rubber stamps. These shallow shelves fit perfectly in the space behind the door to the room. So when the door is open, the shelves are completely hidden and you don't have to look at all the rubber stamps and feel guilty about the amount of $$$ you spent on them. You know the old saying ~ out of sight, out of mind!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Love is in the Air

Today I am putting the finishing touches on my Valentine Supply Swap box for my sweet friend Heather. Here is a sneak peek ~ don't want to give it all away just in case she is looking. Need to get it ready to ship along with a couple of other things that need to be mailed.

It is so nice to have a clean desk to work at and supplies organized so I don't have to tear everything apart looking for things. I still have a few items that I need to find homes for, but just having everything cleaned and sorted through makes me feel less stressed. Over the weekend I was reading Lori's blog entry about her craft closet redo. Oh my gosh, you just have to go take a peek because it is soooo amazing! I could spend my life in that closet amongst all the yummy goodies she has in there!

We are experiencing a slight heat-wave here today. Temperatures are supposed to reach 50 degrees! Of course we can't get too excited since it is only expected to last for one day ~ tomorrow will he back to the typical wintery weather. It's no wonder so many people are sick around here. Would love togo somewhere today (besides the post office) to take advantage of this one fine day. But I have a ton of things to catch up on around here since I played hookie all weekend, so I guess I'll just have to settle for the sun shining in through the window. Hope you all are having a fabulous Monday!!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Studio Update

I've gotten to the part of my studio clean-up that I love ~ adding the decorative touches. I like to surround myself with some pretty little things while I work. Not only does this supply me with endless inspiriation, but it also puts a smile on my face when I gaze at my collections. Some of you already know about my love affair with vintage Limoges rose patterned china. Well, my studio is the perfect place to display some of these pieces. I love little boxes of all kinds ~ great for stowing away small doo-dads and what-nots. And pitchers are great for holding fresh cut flowers, pens and markers, or simply hanging from a ribbon on a hook. Pedastal plates can hold all sorts of tiny treasues including rhinestone encrusted tiaras, paper roses and nesting birds.I love this pottery on top of this cream painted hutch because of it's color, which I fondly refer to Martha Stewart Blue. This same color also covers the walls (Restoration Hardware's Silver Birch) and also happens to be the color of my VW Beetle (Aquarius Blue). The little heart with the quote "Keep a dream in your heart" was given to me by my mother more than 30 years ago.
A bouqet of roses, a small lamp and a sweet cast iron pink birdie complete the top of the hutch.
More Limoges china and some pink depression glass pieces. The "oil painting" canvas was bought several years ago at Homegoods.
I hung some vintage hankies over a tension rod to create a valance for the window and topped it with more Limoges plates. TIP: Be sure to hand baste the hankies together, otherwise they will all fly off the rod when you have the window open on a breezy day ~ learned from experience! I would love to see pictures of the things that inspire you in your studio/craft space. Just leave a link in the comments section so I can come for a visit!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Comfort Food

It's been pretty chilly here in the midwest the last several days, so that causes me to spend time in the kitchen baking and cooking things that make me feel warm and cozy ~ you know, comfort food. I was reading Melissa's blog today and she mentioned that Carrie has started a Dinner Challenge over at her blog to help us all expand our recipe repertoires. Each night (for the next 5 nights) we are cooking a new recipe, photographing the finished project, and then sharing the recipes on our blogs. I know I am always looking for new, tried and true recipes that the family will enjoy, so maybe your are too. I find a lot of tasty recipes in Kraft's Food & Family magazine that in published 5 times a year. The subscription is free and you can sign up for it here. This recipe is from the Winter 2008 issue and was first made by my daughter. She and her fiance raved about it, so of course I had to give it a try.


Serves 6

2 Tbls Kraft Zesty Italian Dressing (may substitute light dressing, if desired)

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces. (I used Perdue's cooked chicken pieces - 10 oz)

2 cups frozen mixed vegetables

1 can (10.75 oz) condensed cream of chicken soup

4 oz Velveeta cheese, cut up (may substitute Velveeta made with 2% milk, if desired)

1 sheet frozen Pepperidge Farm puff pastry, thawed

1 egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat dressing in large skillet. Add chicken; cook and stir 5 minutes or until cooked through. Stir in vegetables, soup and Velveeta. Spoon into greased 9-inch square baking dish. Unfold pastry sheet; place over chicken mixture. Fold under edges of pastry; press onto top of baking dish to seal. Brush pastry with beaten egg. Cut several slits in top of crust to permit steam to escape.Place dish on baking sheet. Bake 30 minutes or until deep golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Spring Cleaning

I know it's the middle of winter and spring is a long way off, but this is what I've been working on lately. It's my studio/creative space/art room which is undergoing a massive clean out. I know, I know it's not very inspirational. But it's something that just HAS to get done before I can work on anything fun and creative. That's because I procrastinated on this project for most of last year. Oh, I did do some reorganizing here and there, but that was only a mere scratching of the surface. I promised myself I would tackle this once and for all in January, so I am trying to comply. I am working my way around the room and tearing everything apart and sorting through it all. I am terrible at making decisions of what to part with and what to keep. And I am always able to look at the most useless looking thing and figure out a something I can do with it, so I suppose that makes me a pack rat. However, I have managed to say goodbye to lots of things this time that I couldn't part with the last time I did this, so I feel I am making progress. In addition to the sorting, I am dusting, scrubbing, touching up paint, and washing all the linens which resulted in this:
Another perfectly inspirational photo ~ NOT! It's the pile of ironing I have to look forward to now. The downside to Rachael Ashwell's linens is they are not permanent press! But at least I can gaze at the sweet little pink roses while I push the iron back and forth so that makes me happy. I base my purging progress on how much empty space is created in the end. These empty jars make me feel SO VERY HAPPY! Oh, I plan to fill them up with pretty little things eventually, but for now their emptiness is pleasing to me. I picked these jars up when the store I used to work at was closing. They held votive candles and the lids were natural stained wood with big wooden ball handles. I sanded the lids down, painted them white and re-sanded the edges for a shabby-chic look before screwing on pink glass knobs I picked up from Anthropologie. The pink gingham lined baskets are from World Market and the paper covered boxes which hold various projects in progress are from Target. Talk about not very inspiring. . .this is my inspiration board completely cleared off. A blank slate to fill with new inspiring goodies. I can't wait to re-do it, but not until the room is finished. It will be my little treat at the end ~ you know, something fun to look forward to.

Note to all you American Idol Fans ~ it starts tonight!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Love Is In The Air

Sorry I haven't posted for a few days. We took a quick trip up to the cottage and had a bunch of things going on this past weekend. I promised I would post pictures of my white feather tree when I switched it from Christmas to Valentine's Day, so here it is. It's fun to collect different heart ornaments for it.
This valentine spread is on top of my baby grand piano. The piano is special to me because it was my grandmothers. Four generations have tickled those ivories.
The above photo is taken in my family room. The chocolates are actually little candles that I got one year at Homegoods.

We have been having the weirdest weather here in the midwest. On Sunday it was 63 degrees which I think broke a some sort of record. Our snow is all gone and it's been raining so the sky is bleak and gray. I hate that ~ I want some sunshine!

I just got word that there is a time issue with the place we were going to have my daughter's wedding this fall. So now we have to find another localation. Does anyone have any novel ideas for where to have a wedding ceremony other than a church? The wedding's in November so an outdoor site is out of the question.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Are You Ready?

I was reading Melissa's post here and she mentioned how she is already starting to think about hearts and Valentines and I thought to myself ~ so am I! It always seems like such a let down when we have to pack away the Christmas decorations. After all the coziness the house exudes from being adorned with pine boughs, berries, candles, stockings hung by the fire, and the beautifully decorated tree, everything starts to take on such a bare appearance when they are gone. So visions of hearts ~ the symbol of love and Valentine's Day ~ is a welcome sight right about now. I noticed that some stores were bringing out their Valentine merchandise before Christmas even arrived and I find that a bit ridiculous. But after Christmas ~ even on the 26th of December ~ is perfectly acceptable as far as I'm concerned. We need something to carry us into the new year and to brighten the cold, gray days of January (if you live in the midwest, that is) and what better symbol than the heart!

The hearts pictured in the photo above are actually Christmas ornaments, but these will not get packed away with the santas and snowmen. They will remain out on display in a different setting. The white feather tree in my front hall (pictured near the bottom of this post) will get "re-dressed" with a wide variety of pink and red hearts. I'll post pics of it when the redecoration is complete.

{Photo Borrowed From Artsymama}

To help us get into the spirit for Valentine's Day (as if we needed any help) there are several swaps going on here and here and here.
Something else that I signed up for in order to beat the winter blues is the Winter Bella e-zine hosted by the McFabulous Teresa! She is sharing special projects 3 times a week throughout January. It's not too late to join in on the fun.

Then looking further ahead, Miss Heather (of the 12 Days to Christmas Swap fame) is hosting a similar type Easter swap here which sounds like a lot of fun.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year!

It's that time of the year when we look ahead to a brand new year and a fresh new start. . .A CLEAN SLATE, as we refer to it. I'm putting together my list of resolutions and goals during these last few days of 2007. I write them in a Goal Journal that I started several years ago. It is fun to look back and see what I wrote in past years and which goals I achieved and which ones I am still working on. The key is to LOOK at them often throughout the year. Better yet, post the list on your inspiration board or refrigerator or tape it to your desk so you see the list EVERYDAY. I'm looking forward with anticipation to whatever excitement 2008 has in store for me. The possibilities are endless and all we have to do is set our sights in that direction.

I received a newsletter the other day from Sandra Magsamen, author of "Living An Artful Life," in which she talked about making "conscience choices for conscious living." Sandra focused on the word BE as she looks toward the new year.

BE You
BElieve in Yourself
BE Passionate
BElong to Something You Believe In
BEgin Today
BEcome What You Dream To BE
BEdazzle With Your Smile and Laughter
BEhave Like It's Your Last Day on the Planet

Sandra also included this great inspirational quote from Eleanor Roosevelt:

"I believe, with all my heart, that we shape our lives and we shape ourselves. One's philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes."

As I was blog-hopping today, I ran across some wonderful SARK-inspired goal sheets that Lia from ArtJunk Girl designed and posted on her Flickr Page. These are a fun way for you to list your goals. You can check them out here.
Whatever goals and/or resolutions you decide upon, AIM HIGH and don't sell yourself short. With each other's support, I know we WILL achieve them!
UPDATE: USC Creamed Illinois 49-17 (Boo-Hoo!)
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