Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Post An Angel At Your Door

KC Willis is once again sharing a little of herself by giving away this very cool Guardian Angel Collage to EVERYONE who mentions and links to Collage Camp on their blog or Yahoo group etc. On the back she has handwritten the words. . ."Post an angel at your door. Fear the darkness nevermore."

I am officially showing my friends and blog followers this opportunity to own a gorgeous piece of artwork by KC Willis. And, for signing up during the next week Collage Camp is only $75 instead of the regular $98. Once you have blogged and linked, just drop her an e-mail at lipstickranch@yahoo.com and send her the link to your blog, as well as your mailing address.

Early this spring, I attended camp with KC, bought her DVD, and my collage art took a new turn in such exciting ways. Collecting buttons, altering fabrics, and "treasure" hunting is even more fun! Oh, KC, thanks again for the lovely collage. I will just treasure it!

Visit KC Willis Collage Camp at: http://collagecamp.ning.com/?xg_source=msg_mes_network

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Last-Minute Wishes

This precious pink sweater will be given to my dear granddaughter, Lauren, for Christmas this year. It took me a few months to complete, with a bit of anxiety near the end. I feel an "Ooh La La" Parisian moment with these colors. I am hoping she will like it, and enjoy wearing it. Little girls sometime surprise me with their preferences even at the age of two!

When Christmas comes calling,
may your home glow bright
with good times and laughter
and love's warming light.

Merry Christmas from My Home to Yours

And, what an eventful year this has been! Who would ever have guessed that some of our most "secure" American institutions would succumb to such devastation? I truly hope that you are able to put the "junk" aside and just enjoy a few moments of peace this holiday season.

There are, of course, many difficult scenarios connected with where all of us find ourselves this glorious time of year. Our real estate and mortgage business has really taken an devastating economic hit. I am having my best artistic years ever though. I love having joined the exciting blogging world, creating artwork to share with you all, and of course, my knitting. I can't imagine doing anything better. My only wish would be that I could spend more time with my grandchildren.

All in all, I have laughed more than I've cried, hugged, learned, and given thanks perhaps a bit more than in other years. But, we're together, strong, happy and incredibly grateful for the miracles we witness each day. I sincerely hope that you, too, have had more joy than sadness, and that the love that surrounds you will let the glorious light of Christmas bring gladness to your heart all year.

Merry Christmas,
and take care of yourself
and those whom you love.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Hand Knitted Socks

The wondrous world of knitting began when my Mom sat down with my girlfriend and I at the age of ten. It was one of those lazy summer days when we were bored, tired of riding our bikes, and we wanted to "do something." Marion (my pal and girlfriend at the time), sat eagerly for my Mom to teach us how to knit and purl for the very first time.

I remember trying to push my needle into those tight stitches, thinking how hard this was. It seemed so awkward at the time. I kept thinking that I would never learn as I would forget to remove the stitch, or drop another when I wasn't supposed to. Marion, my life-long friend from Tennessee, still knits. A few years back, she even thanked my Mom for being so patient with us and was so glad that she learned how to knit so many years ago.

Today, I am posting a picture of my very first pair of hand knitted socks. There are some mistakes, I think. One sock seems a little bit larger, and the yarn is a little heavier than the yarn I would probably use the next time. But, at least, I actually finished a pair!

They are for someone who keeps asking me if I know how to knit socks. I keep telling this person, I don't know how to knit them. But this Christmas, his wish will come true. I am so proud of myself for conquering the heel turn, decreasing the foreboding gusset, and ending my toe with the famous Kitchener stitch. I finally did it! My first, and hopefully not my last, pair of hand-knitted socks!

Post Update: Thursday, December 17th, 2009

These hand knitted socks were given to my young friend, Tyler. I think he was going to cry when I presented him my gift! His Grandma used to make socks when he was a kid, but now suffers from Alzheimer's. I could read in his eyes that my socks brought back sweet memories of his Grandma knitting for him and his brother. Tyler was so thrilled that he wore them to bed the first night, and again the whole next day! It sure was worth the dedication when someone appreciates all your effort. Besides, I got a great big hug!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Best-Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups butter
4 cups flour
2 tsp. soda
2 cups granulated sugar
5 cups blended oatmeal
2 tsp. baking powder
3 cups chopped walnuts
24 oz. chocolate chips
2 cups brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 8-oz. Hershey bar, grated
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla

Measure oatmeal and blend in a blender to a fine powder. Cream the butter and both sugars. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix together with flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder and soda. Add chocolate chips, Hershey bar, and nuts. Roll into balls, and place two inches apart on a cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees. Makes 112 cookies. This recipe may be halved.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Christmas Log Recipe

About a month ago, I received a request from one of my "commentors" named Pauline. She was born in Michigan, but her parents brought her to Malta in 1964. It is such a small world sometimes! She still has only one living uncle who lives in Livonia. In fact, she spoke to him a couple of weeks ago asking him questions about the squirrels in the trees.

She went on to say how she missed seeing the squirrels scampering on the branches with the lovely autumn leaves, which they don't get to see in Malta. Well, she made a humble request of me at that time.

In exchange for a small piece of embroidery from her, she asked if I would make an altered recipe card written in her language, Maltese. Now, that was a little bit of challenge!

Here is the card I created for her of the yuletide recipe called the "Christmas Log." "It will be given to her daughter, since it is the only recipe her daughter can make," Pauline said with a chuckle. I am sure her daughter will be surprised. It will be sent off to Malta the beginning of the week.

Of course, I have once again used the images from one of Becky Loyall's collage sheets. I just love her artwork (as if you couldn't tell LOL).

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Dog Gone Christmas Gift Tags

Coming up with ideas for posts can sometimes be daunting. At times I can't find the words, so I get out my camera and capture some of the fun things I do in my art room. As the holiday season draws near, it has become a personal tradition of mine to create my own Christmas gift tags. Celebrating with the ordinary can just make life just plain easy and fun. And heck, you may find some inspiration to make your own tags this year.

I just wanted to do a very simple theme, and what could be more enjoyable than making tags of my favorite canine friends. These sweet little pup collage images can be found at Whymsical Musings Etsy shop.

The tags themselves were made by Paper Magic Group, Inc. There were 75 deluxe holiday gift tags in the box, and these adorable dog images were mounted on thin cardboard, trimmed, edges lightly sanded and stamped with a Color Box Chalk "Creamy Brown" inkpad. I may have to add a little bit of glitter. All gift tags need just a little bit of sparkle!

Thanks again, Becky, for sharing your "Doggone Wonderful Christmas Collage Sheet!"

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Cozy Holiday Gifts

It's my favorite time of year again. The urge to cozy up in a comfy armchair, pick up my needles and knit with some gorgeous new yarn is irresistible.

I have been knitting like a crazed woman for the past few weeks, making my list and checking it twice. First of all, I really like to give handcrafted items as my holiday gifts. This very warm cowl scarf was an inspiration from the very talented Jen Geigley of Hey! Jen Renee. I love the chunky look of it, which knits up in a jiffy. Her work is just beautiful and innovative! This scarf was actually completed in between working, and trying to catch up from my Halloween swaps. Boy! I really bit off more than I should have during that commitment.

After knitting about a hundred-plus dishcloths this year for customers, I finally decided it was time for a change. I have took the plunge and knitted my first sock! I was so proud of myself considering the heel flap and gusset decreases have scared me for years. Someone who has been asking to knit them a pair of socks will finally get their wish this year. I would love to find some beginner patterns that I could actually attempt would be blissful.

More good things to show you soon . . .

Friday, October 30, 2009

"Trick 'R Treat" Swap on Hallow's Eve

"A Work in Progress" called all witches, vampires, tricksters and ghosts to play Trick or Treat. As you can probably tell, Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I can remember "begging" for candy, as we used to call it more than 50 years ago. We would fill pillowcases or those big brown grocery bags practically full. Maybe not really, but as I kid I used to feel like I had really hit the jackpot.

Remember those cranking noise makers? We used to yell, "Help the poor!" No one used to say "Trick or Treat" or ring door bells. It was plain old-fashioned calling or yelling at the front door. And we used to get the huge candy bars, not these mini ones. Practically everyone had hand sewn costumes. There wasn't a Halloween costume superstore even available. Aaaaah, those were the days!

I am so excited to share some of the beautiful treasures I received. A big "thank you" goes to Christine Edwards, who collected all the goodies, and then sorted and mailed them to our group. You did a great job!

Back in August, I signed up to play by sending in two "TREATS" and one "TRICK." Then she randomly chose two treats and one trick for each participant.

This is my first amazing "TRICK."
The Gypsy Witch Book of Magic Potions

I think this book box is the best ever! Nestled in a bed of moss, rests a Mr. Bones extra set of spare hands, a vial of "Graveyard Dust," one black votive candle, one canister of "Spider's Silk," and a test tube of "Moon Dust," and another of poisonous "Zombie Dust." I loved this!! What a very clever and imaginative trick! I will have to show my grandson, who will think this is SO cool. Thank you very much for creating this spooky treasure.

I sent this funny "trickster" pumpkin as my "TRICK" in a fabric bag of rubber snakes. She was cleverly designed and painted by my sister Peg.

And, this was my first outstanding "TREAT!"
Vintage-Inspired Pumpkin with Witch's Hat

This pedestal pumpkin is wearing a pointed witch's hat, encircled with sparkling black tinsel at base, and hat brim. A crepe-paper collar surrounds the neck of a hand-painted pumpkin that resembles something very vintage. I think it is perfect for a table centerpiece! Thank you so much for this very unique piece of artwork.

And, lastly my other beautiful "TREAT."
Unfulfilled Dreams, She Only Wanted to be Loved

I encountered some technical difficulties while trying to photograph this piece due to reflection and color. This picture does not do this piece of artwork justice. Inside rests a frail skeletal figure, dressed as a bride that only wished for a happy life. Along the left edge is a glittered gray flower, and on the right a gossamer black velvet rose. It is really quite lovely, in spite of this sad tale. The poem inside this shadow box reads:

"Everybody wishes
to have a happy destiny.
She always dreamt with a ring on her finger.
She wanted to love and be loved,
but her dreams would never come true."

Thank you so much for this sentimental gesture describing a woman who felt she may have been short-changed in her life by never finding true love. I think it is just too sweet.

And for the two "TREATS" that I sent was this altered composition book filled with sinister tags in the inside pocket. The digital collage sheet image was designed by Becky Loyall, from Whymsical Musings, an Outsiders Artist.

Then I included a bag of my "signature" hand-knitted dishcloths in colors of the autumn season as my second "TREAT" with a box of candy. I may have sent a different color, because I sent my gift not realizing I didn't take any photos. Yikes!

As a "thank you" to the hostess, I sent Christine one "Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid Clock" altered from an old music CD.

And Christine sent me this lovely bag of goodies.
I am so grateful to have been part of this event.

I love these little trinkets, especially the vintage buttons,
bingo cards and that terrifying spooky witch image!

So, today on Halloween Eve, I have revealed my amazing stash! Hopefully, I will be able to show you more photos and links to these participants at a later date! Supposedly, there are no identifying signatures on items received to add to the festivities.

I will miss not be able to seriously play on my computer for the next few days. I will be out of town visiting family in Grand Rapids, Michigan for the Halloween weekend. Can't wait to share some munchkin photos. Happy Halloween everyone!

Happy Hauntings!


Monday, October 26, 2009

Hostess Halloween Candy Gift

I really enjoyed assembling these colorful candy canisters as hostess gifts for my nieces yesterday. It was easy to prepare them from recycled glass jars purchased from the Salvation Army as Halloween hostess gifts.

I did a little digital magic by altering a downloaded label, and adding new words that I enjoyed from one of Christine Edward's "Wicked Halloween Swap" gifts from Val. I wrapped them with clear cellophane, gathered them at the top, and tied with black raffia. They were really accepted with great enthusiasm! Thanks, Christine and Val, for your inspiration!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant

Yesterday, I went to the theater with my friends Deb and Vikki to view this one thrilling movie! It was brilliant. The artwork in the prologue is mesmerizing. And by the way, this is another movie filmed in New Orleans! Oh, what fun....just in time for the holiday! A must see!

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Voice of the Bayou

"Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte"

Charlotte Hollis, played by Bette Davis, is a wealthy southern spinster. She has been shunned by her hometown for a grisly murder some 40 years prior of her intended, John Mayhew. Even though her guilt was never proven, the townspeople compare her to a modern-day Lizzie Borden. For this reason she lives a life secluded from town and society. She lives with her faithful servant, Velma, played by Olivia de Haviland. Now, progress in the form of a new highway, threatens the Hollis plantation since the Civil War times. She refuses to leave, summoning "Cousin Mariam" (Agnes Moorehead) to fight the public battle to save her home. The tale is somewhat predictable, but is Charlotte insane? Doctor Drew (Joseph Cotton) feels she may need some help across the threshold of insanity....scary stuff when I was a young teen. The movie filming production was at non-other than the Oak Alley Plantation in Louisiana.

Remember how Bette danced so awkwardly in this movie? You almost felt sorry for her.

Driveway Entrance

Oak Alley is a wondrous structure in terms of architectural detail and then some. I sit and muse about what people DID there--how they lived, how they worked, what they cooked and ate, how they played? What went on in this awesome, but very isolated, rural setting? I often wonder about the people who had inhabited it and worked it.

Oak Alley Plantation, acquired in 1820, is probably one of the most poignant images from the past. This next photo is a proud keepsake, a tribute to Louisiana's unique Golden Age, but mostly it is a thing of beauty to me. The interior spaces have huge, wood burning fireplaces and mantels adorned with beautiful carvings reflecting the wealth and taste of their owners. The main house has twenty-eight two story Tuscan order columns. The solid brick walls are sixteen inches thick. I am so fortunate to have captured her beauty, her magic, and majesty for you to see.

Back of Mansion

Years before I came to Oak Alley, I fell in love with its setting. Was it the majestic trees, the perfectly manicured lawns, the movie, or the "Big House?" It is so much more than that. There is a magical aura that surrounds the place. You can see it in the faces of guests as they round the bend of the River Road or walk up the levee. After that first audible gasp, you want to clasp your Canon to capture the incredible vista. There is just something enchanting that makes you want to capture the "feeling" that is so unique to this unforgettable setting.

We were told on tour that there was a presence of spirits long gone that visited the lavender bedroom below. I crept into the bedroom, and dared not make a sound. I stood in the shadow of history. There is a reverence you find yourself wanting to accept in order to understand the importance of this place.

Josephine Roman Aime is said to haunt this bedroom.
Suddenly, that feeling of potential spirits sped away, much as a deer would when startled by an approaching human. I walked away, out of the shadows, lost in thought and lost in time.

They stood so proud --

the trees --

majestic creations

of some quiet miracle

that breathed life

into a barren land.

Jim Metcalf
The Trees

And for another peek on today's and early opening of October 24th's, 13 Days of Halloween Swap, I present this vintage rick rack package, and handmade white dishcloth scrubbie made by Hope Malott. Nice job!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

New Orleans, One Magical Place

New Orleans still haunts my mind with it's style. Five years ago, while attending a national racquetball sporting event with my hubby, we had the best time ever! I distinctly remember the historic sites, the rhythmic sounds, the tantalizing tastes, and the exotic aromas of New Orleans. We took a streetcar to St. Charles Avenue from the famous above-ground cemeteries to the Riverwalk shopping pavilion and then onto riverboats moving lazily along the Mississippi.

There were voodoo tours, readings, drum and chant rituals. Marie Laveau, the great voodoo queen, is still a staple at the New Orleans historic Voodoo Museum. Visitors can get their own good-luck bags of herbs and oils, and arrange for spooky tours of swamp country. You can even get palms or tarot cards read in Jackson Square. There are artists who sketch visitors in watercolors, oils, or even purchase prints of French Quarter scenes. Or how about that special purchase of an alligator head, or maybe feet as souvenirs!

What an mysterious and magical place. One of the most beautiful streets is St. Charles Avenue. I don't really know if the Garden District survived the great Hurricane Katrina, but it will always be here in the photos I shot that one hot and rainy day back in July 2004.

Can you even imagine having a driveway to your house as grand as this one?

A few blocks away on Napoleon Avenue, vampire mystery novelist, Anne Rice, bought Saint Elizabeth's Asylum, once an orphanage. Wealthy sugar and cotton planters had built stupendous homes in the Garden District. This is such a grand city, not only for it's Victorian mansions, but most of it's architecture. I felt like I was trapped in a movie from the 1920's or 30's.

Tomorrow I will take you to Oak Alley Plantation, one of the most gorgeous plantations you could ever visit, that once was the movie site for "Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte," starring Bette Davis. They say it's definitely haunted!

And, for my next gift reveal during the 13 Days of Halloween Swap, here are Hope Malott's gifts to me. I did not have any of this silver garland or the black or white raffia. How could I be so lucky?

Thanks again, Hope!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Having A Bad Hair Day

My vampire daughter Amy, 2004.

Did you ever go to the hairdresser and you look worse than when you went in? Well, that happened today. I came out with that flat hair-do that I don't particularly like on myself. I made a beeline for home, hoping I wouldn't see someone who knew me. I don't understand why a hairdresser would do this! I went into my favorite salon with my "Texas-style" big hair, and came out like a drowned rat. Maybe someone is trying to tell me something?

So, to liven up my day, I just thought I'd have a little fun, and do something totally silly. For me, playing a game is a luxury. I guess, I am just too devoted to producing something tangible for my time. Give this link a try. It makes you a little crazy.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

13 Days of Halloween, Day 2

Today I am revealing my gift wrapped in old sheet music dated October 20th.

What an amazing vintage postcard banner! Hope Mallot purchased this for me from her favorite Etsy shop called VintageScraps.etsy.com. The colors are just lovely, and sparkling with clear huge glitter strung on black seam binding! I love it. It is hanging above my computer so I can enjoy it constantly!!

Missing HBO's "Carnivale"

"Carnivale" was a brilliant (and mind haunting) HBO series. It told the story of a traveling carny in the Oklahoma dust bowl of the 1930's. There was quite a cast of characters and a supernatural storyline that involved nothing less than the fate of the world. There was a talented cast.....Nick Stahl (Sin City), Amy Madigan (Field of Dreams), Michael J. Anderson (Twin Peaks), Tim DeKay (Party of Five), Clea DuVall (The Grudge), and a personal favorite of mine Patrick Bauchau (Revelations, Vampires: The Turning), Debra Cristofferson (White Oleander), and Diane Salinger.

The show began in 2003 to quite a bit of controversy, but an avid fan interest. It won five Emmys in the first year on the air. Although nowhere near the ratings of other shows that ran at the same time like the Sopranos, Desperate Housewives, or Sex in the City, it was able to keep a distinct core of viewers. And, I was one of them on occasion.

I did not watch the TV series faithfully during it's hey day, until just last year when my friend, Deb Abel, said she had the entire series recorded. And, what a joy it was! I didn't want it to end.

Originally, it was supposed to last a mere six seasons. I suppose the biggest controversy began when there were rumors that HBO might have to cancel the show. I really hoped that this wasn't true, but after only two seasons, it ended and the lower rated shows stayed. Then when the second season ended with a bit of a cliffhanger, all hopes to seeing the fate of the world end with somewhat of a disappointment, I was heartbroken.

Yes, "Carnivale" ended. I miss watching those guys. This "Management" sure could use of dose of their stories. It would be a delight to have it return, especially at this time of year! I feel like it was probably one of the best shows ever, and even now I can picture Sophie so sweet in appearance weave her web into the world's sorrow.

Monday, October 19, 2009

13 Days of Halloween, Day 1

I truly believe that how a gift is presented is such an important aspect to the art of giving gifts.

Hope Malott presented me with a splendid array of music sheet wrapped goodies. Some were wrapped in old book pages, then machine sewn on three sides. But, the most important thing was that she was thoughtful and they were an extension of the gift inside.

I tried to do the same by wrapping my presents in reproduction advertisement paper bags in black and dark beige tones, with a touch of contemporary. I purchased these beautiful ghoulish children tag images from Kirsi. Then I embellished each tag with the required dates and glued clocks to the underside portraying the "witching hour."

One thing, that Hope did, that I should have done was recycle too, both for the sake of our planet, and to acquire a potpourri of different kinds of items and styles for potential creative situations later. I systematically cut away the musical paper. I knew that at some point I would want to put it to use again. I even saved the pretty vintage seam binding ribbons that wrapped her lovelies too.

How exciting it was to receive an "extra" gift for the 18th! Thanks, Hope for the sweet gifts that came my way on the first day. I am sure I will be enjoying the fruits of your paper punching techniques by using these adorable vellum bats and posies. I sure love those Dove dark chocolate candies! I am very happy to be part of the next 13 days of celebration. Hope that everyone was as fortunate as I was! Here is my first gift to a very generous partner.

These were some of the Halloween postcards I created for her. She tells me she has been sending them out already to her friends. Lovin' that!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Magical Halloween Celebration is Today!

I am probably one of the biggest fans of Outsider Artists. As a tribute to their talent and generosity in sharing their amazing images, I have lovingly created these "Twilight Journals" to share during Vanessa's "Hauntingly Magical Halloween Celebration" today.

The stunning blue "Bella Vision" portrait was created by Becky Loyall of Whymsical Musings. She has generously shared this 300 dpi picture on her blog. The other three brilliant images were digitally created by Deborah Bohm of Outsider Artists and can be purchased through Deborah Dare Art by email.

I printed all of these images on matte photo paper for sturdiness, a sharper image, and then covered my composition book. I was imagining all the wonderful things I could create with these special photos. Thank you so much, Becky and Deborah. I have become quite attached to the Twilight saga, and am visualizing other magical projects using them.

Tomorrow Never Knows

Turn off your mind relax and float
It is not dying, it is not dying,
lay down all thought surrender to the void,
It is shining, it is shining.

That you may see the meaning of within,
It is speaking, it is speaking,
that love is all and love is everyone,
It is knowing, it is knowing.
When ignorance and haste may mourn
the dead,
It is believing, it is believing.

But listen to the color of your dreams,
It is not living, it is not living.
Or play the game existence to the end.
Of the beginning, of the beginning.
Of the beginning, of the beginning.

~The Beatles "Songbook"

Thank you, Vanessa, for hosting this simply amazing Halloween extravaganza!!

Happy Haunting,

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Hauntingly Magical Halloween Celebration

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You are cordially invited to attend a Hauntingly Magical Halloween Celebration hosted by Vanessa Valencia of "A Fanciful Twist." Please join the fantasy by attending her event this Saturday, October 17th.

I'm warming up the cauldron to display some of my creative treats and tricks. This little witch is getting so anxious! Don't miss this enchanting party. You won't be disappointed. Just click on her blog and start blog hopping with the partiers.

See you there!