Tuesday, November 29, 2016


The Christmas project is going along well.  I've decided to build the toy instead of buy it.    Most of the ones in this class available are for younger children, and shorter than would be useful for Esme.  There are a few 'her size' out there, but they get into the hundreds of dollars and as Mark and I talked about the other night - she probably won't be wanting it for more than a few years.  We decided to spend the money on some thing she would use longer.  But, I still wanted to build her one, even if it will only survive for a year or two.

So, I've been using what we have on hand, some cardboard, pvc pipe pieces, a storage bucket, wire, magnets, glue, paint etc...  All that would cost money, too, except that we have it already and it is sitting around unused.  And I think it is turning out okay.

I can't post pictures because it is supposed to be secret - and Esme can see the blog!  She's been good about not peeking under the sheet to see what it is, so far...

We're also encouraging her to watch and participate in cooking more (hint hint), and buying a few more cookbooks.  I made biscuits for the first time in a long time last night, from scratch, and they turned out pretty good.  I had one of the leftover ones this morning smeared with butter and maple syrup. I'm trying to collect the best basic recipes to make a 'goto' book, like we had in my mom's cupboard at home.  I was Esme's age when I began to make parts of the meal on a regular basis, biscuits, macaroni 'hotdish', rice, gravy, cake etc.... She can make scrambled eggs, corndogs and cook things in the toaster oven, but she's still afraid of it.  She is usually willing to watch me do it step by step.  I want to transition her from 'me' to 'you'... but if she doesn't see me do it enough she won't feel it is a necessary skill.  There might be a day for her - in all likelihood will, that she doesn't have the ease of going and picking up whatever she wants to eat whenever she wants it.  And it's better to learn earlier than have to struggle through it later.

Esme and I are halfway through 'Wildwood'.  We've just gotten to the part where Prue is meeting with Owl Rex and finds out about the Dowager Governess' past.... creepy!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Lake Walk

 Took a walk to the lake with the little camera (Cupcake) today.  More pictures at the Niume post "Gathering Inspiration".  When I get a little more time off (coming up this week) hope to sketch some of these ideas in paint.  One of the grass shots (in the post) is really spectacular.  These two are a few little bonus images from the camera roll... I like the way everything is 'reaching up' in the pic below, and the little tendrils of vine curling around the twigs up above.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Making Dragon Pork Spice

Esme helped with all of this!  See article above.

We're getting ready for the big day tomorrow!  Esme  and I have planned and gotten ready our clothing.  We took Grandma out today and she got her own groceries and some things to add to the feast.  And we are making dragon pork spice and porkchops for the meal and to bring to our friends afterwards.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

How to Cast On Knitting Contiental Style

please go to the link to see the photo essay laid out.

At the end of the second page there is a link to my earlier photo essay on how to knit on from there.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Before Thanksgiving...

The weather is getting truly cold... and it is even harder for me to keep myself out of bed after the school bus than it was when the air was warm.

'Push and Pull' (post at Niume)

I took the little camera 'Cupcake' as Esme calls it, to town with me and grabbed a few shots during my lunch break - I couldn't go far, I still really wanted to sit down and eat.  I grabbed this rather blurry image of the owls in our store Christmas tree and the shadows playing on the brick memorial outside.  The camera doesn't do very good detail shots, but it does capture shadows nicely.

 This is the memorial at Lowes, for people who have worked with us previously but have passed on by accident or disease before their time.  I knew the bricks would be showing gradient shadows because of the angle of the sun, and it might be a good painting  challenge later.

Whoever put the fake owls in there - they are interesting.

I finally ... finally... finished 'Written in My Own Heart's Blood', by Diana Gabaldon.  It is the last of the available Outlander books.  It feels like I've read this series forever, but I did like it.

Then, in almost one day, I finished an Outlander 'copycat', and am onto another.  Well, they are steamy, that is for sure.  The second one is at least more story, kind of like 'It's a Wonderful Life' meets Outlander where Fate and the angels have a hand in sending her back into the body of a woman who otherwise accidentally died.  It's called 'Time for a Highlander'.  Very silly, anyway, though.

Time to go warm up and get ready - I work tonight, then three days off for Thanksgiving, then a very Black Friday... I really hate it, but we have to ALL be there.. so we make the best of it.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Too Much Adventure : confessions, paintings and cupcake

I got myself into a predicament this morning, and confessed it all in the post above.  The kind folks at Douglas Auto in Huntingdon ,TN came to my rescue.  

I'm going to get out my paints now and work at actually doing what I had been out there to take photographs for!  

 This was a good effort - 9x12 on paper.  I broke out the new bottle of Barn Red I've been reserving.  I need to buy a new bottle of Fuschia, too - if I'm going to paint anything like the below!

Esme was styling her pink hat and gloves today, diving through leaves and feeding her chickens.

Esme also named my camera today, the small really old one I carry 'out'  and about.   (that took all these photos).  She says it's name is 'cupcake', because that is what the shutter sounds like to her.  That works.  Me and Cupcake will be going out and about more often.. but hopefully not in any more ditches!

Thursday, November 17, 2016


I've been feeling this a lot lately... in my goals on making a little extra money for the holidays... in things at work that I've been asked to do outside my comfort zone, in my renewed promise to continue in my art.  The radio station in my brain tuned to 'motivational speaker' is working a little louder lately.  

I need to 'push' a little.. consistently,  but not so much that I am stressed.  But, that will keep me getting more done, and let me admit to myself that some of my more unique thoughts are not just to be skipped over on the way to the mediocre ones... 

Next month is one year since I started to write my book... and it has three chapters done.  That is on my mind, too.. but it is still saying 'don't push' on that... The Niume challenges and the art are helping me get to the point where I'm ready to take that back in hand and edit it one more time.. find out where the story goes next.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Art - Portrait Painting

5x7 painting

I started out trying to paint something difficult that I already had a picture of on my computer - and I came up with this photograph of Esme, eyes down, shadows defining her face.  I took on a hard subject - I noticed halfway through the sketch.. but one I cared about doing well.  After the pencil sketch wasn't quite what I wanted (and Mark said the shadows were very stark), I continued over it in acrylic paint.  I might have to try a grid transfer technique to make a larger one.  Or, I might just go and do a portrait of Lucy (Esme's dog), to continue on the stretch and come back when I've learned a bit more again.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Art and Cold

I've been taking the art practice more seriously.. and here is my most recent painting

10x12 inches, cafe in Provence Alpes Cote d'Azur
visit here for more details

This image came from Google Maps - and I wandered street after street around Nice, France until I landed in front of this place and said 'That's it.'  The colors of the chairs and the buildings (which were very similar to shown) and all the little railing and window details cinched it.

I think I spent about three hours on it last night, finishing just before midnight.  I pushed myself and wasn't 100% happy with the result (mostly the motorbikes) but was extremely happy that I finished it entirely and didn't give up.  That last stroke when you know its done... that feels nice.   I can see a common style emerging again, and have noticed a few things about my painting process that rings bells with years and years ago.  1.) I tend to use one brush throughout.  2.)  My color choices - even when trying to be true to life - tend to cluster around a few specific hues. 

The temperature is really dropping lately!  It's cold!  I got Esme a new sweatshirt and am focusing on making sure she has warm things to wear for the next few months.  She is so happy to have her birthday boots.

Now I am going to kick my tail into crocheting some new winter hats while sitting warmly in the bed with the rest of Written in My Own Heart's Blood by Diana Gabaldon.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Make Art Try Anyway

All I have is an hour to do this - I can't possibly start because I know I won't be able to finish...  My brushes look like a warzone.  This picture that inspired me is too complicated to do justice to...  What good is a study if I can't actually paint it today...  I fought these excuses down today.  Then I made this post at Niume.  Try Anyway. (full sketch in linked post)

click for full post

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

After Election and art bits

We went out and voted last night after work.  Then we sat up all night listening to the returns.  We were pretty shocked to hear that Donald Trump had won.  I guess we see where the country goes now - but we really didn't have a good choice this time around.  Neither of the candidates was somebody we WANTED for President.  We were just voting on platform and our fear of what the other one would do worse. There were things on both platforms that were not good for America's future - but we hope that everyone can work together and make the good things happen and practice some constraint on the craziness. Esme was sad when she went to school today - Hillary had won in her class and she was psyched about 'making a historic moment  for women' they had told her at school.'  Enough on that.

I'm focusing forward now - getting ready for work, thinking about Mark's birthday coming up, then Christmas... I should be thinking about Black Friday because that will  come at work and I can't avoid it.  But, that - I am trying to not think about until I have to.  It's stressful.  But then it gets done, and we get over it.

I posted some art things on Niume, as well.
This was a painting I was making of a Netherlands marina while we were waiting for the returns.
I wanted to test my skill so I picked a place at random and just started going.


Sunday, November 06, 2016

After birthday bits

Esme had a great weekend with her birthday sleepover.  It wasn't a 'restful' weekend, but it could have been worse.  We're back to reading our Wildwood book, by Colin Meloy.  She is liking it - after being uninterested in reading it herself because of the scary idea of the crows in the beginning.  She already distrusts the Dowager Governess, can't wait to meet the King of the Birds and realized that if only those with Woods blood can go into the Wood it must be Prue and her brother that have it because Mac is a baby but he got through.  That's some thinking ahead.  Tomorrow begins another long week, with Sunday being the next day off.

Esme and I were playing LAN Minecraft and she made the comment that my house building style reminded her of my drawing style - they have the 'same kind of strokes.'  Heh. 

Saturday, November 05, 2016

9th birthday

 The yearly presentation of the potato.
Daddy made me do it!

 Hazel and Grandma


Fuzzy purple boots
She'd asked me for boots and these seemed to be just right for her.

 And toy mice!
We got her the cage and wheel and Grandma got her an extra mouse to play with.

She had asked for this outfit in August for school, but it wasn't really school appropriate.  Grandma bought it for her birthday so she can dress up fancy!

G stayed for Minecraft sleepover
They brought face paints and a game that the girls enjoyed playing against each other!

Friday, November 04, 2016

Nine years old!

Esme turns nine today!  She is off on a school field trip today, and we celebrate with a party tomorrow!

We have a nice pile of presents for her.  She gets to open one after school today, and then the rest tomorrow.  We will focus on baking her cake tonight!

The Kraft paper ones said '100% non Giant Potato.  She opened them tonight after school - and they were big new pillows for sleepover pillow fighting, with wild and crazy patterned pillowcases.

Niume writing:
Emphasiing with your characters  : It is emotionally involving, but it proves the author is doing a good job!
Astronomy Lesson at the Bus Stop : Esme and I on a cold morning waiting for the bus, looking at the stars!
Biscuit Hexagon Ring Algorithm : How to find out how many hexagons will be in a grid based on how many hexagons across.

And I have two flipboards, which are places to showcase your own writing and other author's writing that you have enjoyed.   These will be updated every few days as I write more Niumes and find other author's posts that are really helpful and interesting.

Read and Repeat
Living Well (and simply)

I rescued this today and hung it up in the hall.  The place it was stored in had gotten a little humid and the upper and lower edges were spotted.  I cut a drawing paper piece with a mat cutter and put it in a frame that something else had been stored in.  I'll enjoy it while it lasts!

"The Magic Fish", copyright Marie (Rhe Winger) Lamb, 2002
ink and watercolors on paper

Wednesday, November 02, 2016


We bought supplies, and wrapped Esme's presents.  I found a very pretty paper, which was something I spent some time looking for.  We're planning on opening gifts on Saturday afternoon, with her friend, whenever they get here.  And then the girls will have a sleepover here.

I mopped the floor and cleaned some tonight - have to do some more laundry tomorrow.  Then Esme will go on a field trip with her school on her birthday.  It's been an 'extended week'.. ever since last weekend... and we'll just keep extending it on through this Sunday, too.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Halloween and bits

Esme's"fox turtle" costume.  She cut and painted the box herself.  I sewed the tail on the bottom of it.

We went out to McKenzie with G and her parents.  Now the next big thing is this Saturday afternoon - we've invited G over for the night to play and hang out.  Esme's birthday is on Friday but they have a school trip so that day will already be busy.  I discussed it with her and said we would bake her cake when she got home from school to be ready for Saturday.   She wants strawberries on her cake.  We'll open presents on Saturday afternoon - the first year we haven't done that on her birthday, ever.

Today, we have to go get some snack and food supplies at the store, and then wrap up her presents.
I have the day off and have been catching up on my books, and book postings at Niume.

Since Esme went back to school I've been trying to use my free time in productive ways.  I have to say I haven't sewn anything (except that fox tail) for a good while.  My sewing station is dusty.  But I have picked up two other habits.  I've been reading more, making reviews at Niume (hoping for the proceeds from that to add up over time, plus its fun), and doing the Turk thing to earn extra money for birthday and Christmas presents.

Christmas is coming up, too.  I overheard some conversations at work about extravagant Christmas lists... wow... I almost (almost) feel inadequate about what we're doing for birthday but we've been planning this for a while and I am sure she is going to love it all.  And then we have to work on Christmas after that.  Having birthday and Christmas this close together is a bit tough on that, but as one person pointed out, it could be worse.. their little girl has her birthday two weeks after Christmas, when she is usually broke and not sure whether to make birthday less or more of an event etc...

I've been looking at a few Christmas things .. but don't really want to get on that train until after this Sunday...