Friday, April 30, 2010

Nest Egg Cottage

When you talk to miniaturists, one of the first things they ask you is how many dollhouses you have. I always felt a little guilty saying "one little cottage" because the hardcore miniaturist usually has several houses, some of them quite large. When I first started out I had my one cottage that I filled with inexpensive things, and castoffs from other miniaturists, who's tastes and budgets had moved to a higher level. It was my goal at the time just to get it filled and being small enough to fit was my only criteria. The result was a ho-hum house with a few "cute" things, but nothing that would impress a fellow miniaturist.
Since then my tastes and budget have improved so I knew it was time to upgrade my lone cottage. At some point in my miniature "career" I had decided rather than a large quantity of miniatures, my goal would be to have few, but to have the best I could afford. So with that in mind I set about renovating my cottage. . I gutted it and started to work on my vision. It does not hold a lot, but what is in there is high grade stuff! I call it Nest Egg Cottage and its inspired by the art of Marjolien Bastin. It turned out just as I had imagined it. I knew I hit the mark when my husband, looking inside said " You did it to look like where you would want to live didn't you!" He was so right! It pleases me that the house says that to him, and that he knows me well enough to hear it speaking. It is my dream cottage and if I could find a bottle labeled "Drink Me" I would move in today.

Monday, April 26, 2010

to blog or not to blog...

to blog or not to blog, that was question for me today. Its Monday which is my housework and drudgery day, plus I am battling a cold, so I was already feeling put upon and abused so did not feel like facing the computer too. You might think by the number of successful posts that I have this all figured out, but you would be wrong. I come each time to the computer ready to spend ages trying to get the picture and the font and the layout the way I want it. Each time I am as surprised as I was the first time when it actually comes out more or less like I planned. Today I decided to face it because in a fit of caffeine fueled energy and optimism I put it on my "to Do" list for the day, and since it was on the list, I figured I might as well do it. Never mind that I was the one who made the list and ought to feel entitled to amend it...I never do for some strange reason, a topic to explore more fully on another day.

For today lets look at Key West in a jar. On one of the afternoons on Key West we spent a little while beach combing and the picture above is the result. It looks totally staged and store bought, but I promise there is not a thing in that jar other than the sand on the bottom that did not come from our gleanings from that afternoon on the beach. I love it! What a way to remember our time there and like all the best souvenirs, it was absolutely free!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Killa Moves

I never thought of myself as a "cougar" until this past weekend when I was eye to eye with a "big game Hunter" in Key West. I thought you had to be on the prowl to earn the title, but I guess being a suitable target is reason enough. My friend and I were standing in a bar on Duval street waiting for our husbands when two twenty somethings came over and struck up a conversation...if you could call it that; too many margaritas all around make that a dubious claim at any rate... To our credit we owned up to being happily married from the very beginning, but that seemed to matter little to Killa and his Friend. I call him Killa because it was tattooed on his arm. After a few more failed attempts to win us over we left them to try their moves on more suitable targets and we went off to find our husbands in order tell them about our adventure and yes, to gloat a little...OK a LOT! Thanks Killa, where ever you are.

Bucket list line items

I don't have a bucket list in the traditional sense. That is to say, there is no paper on which it is written, but I do have in the back of my mind a list of sorts. Things that have always held my interest or that I have always hoped to do. Its a strange compilation of things that matter only to me. Some of the items are no surprise"see the pyramids of Giza" for example, but one of the stranger things has always been to be able to identify poison ivy. Its not common on the high plains where I grew up if it exists there at all and I never had to worry about running afoul of it. It did bother me that I might though since I had no earthly idea of how to spot it. Its not as easy as it seems because poison ivy is a chameleon of a plant. Its leaves may be notched or smooth, it may be growing as a vine, or a bush...But still that rhyme stuck in my brain "leaves of three, let it be" So on a recent trip to the Columbia Zoo I spotted the plant pictured above and wondered aloud if it might be poison ivy. We did not know, and Steve refused to test it out on his I had to settle on snapping a picture and researching it later. Much to my delight, I can finally put a mental check mark next to "Identify Poison Ivy" on my strange little unwritten Bucket list.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Mr. Humphries

Its been over year since we said goodbye to Milford our dog. Its been hard getting used to not having an animal in the house after 14 years with Milfy. We have decided to put off getting another dog until retirement so that we both will be free to travel during our last few years with the Military. We soon realized that we needed a pet. Fish were an option because they could be left unattended, with the help of an automatic feeder, for days at a time, but they lacked fur,which we knew was something we were definitely looking for. We soon realized that a Hamster would bridge the gap between the carefree but also snuggle free nature of fish and the furry cuddles we craved from a dog, but with the ability to be on on its own for a few days at a time. When we brought our little hamster home from the pet store it was still fairly young and we were told by the pet store employee that it was a little boy hamster and so we chose the name Mr. Humphries from an old Britcom that we used to enjoy. As Mr. Humphries matured we noticed his anatomy did not correspond with the anatomical drawings of male hamsters in the helpful books I had purchased on Hamster Husbandry. No, our little Mr. Humphries is most definitely a girl, but the name remains.

She has a lot of personality for such a little thing. She willingly steps onto our hands to leave her cage every evening for a chance to explore the world outside. She will drop most anything to take a peanut in her little paws, and when she hears the crinkle of the bag that holds her yogurt drops she always sits up and takes notice. We call her our methadone Dog, since she is helping to take the edge off our Doggy withdrawal. She is not as obviously delighted to see us as a dog would be, but in her own small ways, she lets us know she is pleased we are there and I am happy to say the feelings are mutual.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Not mine, not yet...

This is one of the quilts I have lined up in the chute waiting to be done. Its number three in the queue. I found the pattern online and fell instantly in love. It marries the things I grew to love while living in Hawaii and my favorite quilt style, the Baltimore Album. I might change a few details or not. I am undecided at this point and since I have the luxury of time, I will mull it over some more. The last Baltimore Album I did, and incidentally, my first, was going to be my Magnum Opus, but its too small to be called magnum...I guess I should call it my minimum opus. But my Hawaiian Album, now that will definitely be worth the title Magnum Opus. Now to hurry up and finish the ones in line ahead of it!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Not like the good ol days

I was just reading an e-mail from a Friend. She had been perusing some old art instruction books and noticed that the old books taught techniques that are not found in the newer books. So she made a sketch using the older techniques and found that they were much more labor intensive, but yielded significantly better results. She lamented the fact that the new books do not teach the older, better techniques. I wondered why, but almost as soon as the question formed in my mind, I knew the answer. Our diminished attention spans are at fault. But which came first, our lack of focus, or a world streaming at us in 30 second soundbites? Back before the technology revolution we might be quite happy to spend hours fussing over a sketch, or needlework, or painting...but not now, not with our cellphones ringing, online networks requesting our friendship, and the insidious computer games eating away our days at best in 5 minute increments and at worst hours at a time. There are 200 Chanel's to choose from on TV and if you still cannot find something to watch, then you can have an instant movie on demand...maybe its time to rethink all this connectedness and get back to doing things the slower, but better way.

Friday, April 9, 2010

new love

I have discovered a new love. Rather I have rediscovered an old one-hand dyed fabrics. I have always loved them, but they were too expensive for me to really indulge myself, that and they are kind of dangerous. They are the Russian roulette of the quilting world. I have played that game before and lost. Just ask my Mom. I made a beautiful appliqued and pieced quilt and backed it with some hand dyed fabric, that I myself had dyed with RIT dye. They don't tell you a lot about fugitive dye on the rit box, but I learned about it the hard way. My first encounter was with some some purchased fuchsia hand dyed fabric that bled onto the quilt block when I got it wet, but that was only the beginning. My quilt full of bright colors went into the machine for a final wash after I hand quilted the whole thing. Not only did I learn about fugitive dye that day, I learned another dye term "over Dye" when the hand dyed brown backing fabric bled brown dye into the wash water and turned my blanket into a sepia tinted quilt. Still a pretty blanket by any standard, but not the blanket I had grown to love while working on it all those many months. I offered it to my Mom. The colors actually worked in her decor and it was more of a happy accident than quilting tragedy. I am overcoming it too in my own way. I have smartened up on the methods of hand dying and know a little more about how dye works and what you can and can't get away with. I know never to trust a store bought hand dyed fabric, and now that I know how to dye my own I may never have to. My gradation dyeing was a huge success as you can see and I am also in the home stretch of a second quilt top like the one I inadvertently over dyed a few years ago, hope and quilting springs eternal.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Spring in Columbia

I have to admit that when we first moved here last summer I did not have an affinity for South Carolina. Now that I have seen it in the spring time, I am beginning to feel differently toward it. It really is at its most beautiful at this time of year. The one thing that really stands out is the pine pollen. It coats everything in yellow dust thick enough to write your name in and runs in golden rivulets down the pavement if you get it wet. It reminds me very much of the fine red sand that sifts onto the sills through closed windows during a high plains sand storm.

My battle to conquer my techno fear continues. This morning I spent a full hour trying to upload my little bee picture we took at a nearby state park. I finally found the problem...I had failed to click a check mark in the "I accept" box next to the terms of service...honestly....

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Confessions of a technophobe

Ok, So I was watching the Celebrity Apprentice the other night and was startled to see mAdd Imageyself looking back at me from the unlikely face of Rod Blagojevich. Not being a seedy Chicago politician, a man, or even dark haired for that matter... you might wonder why did I identify with that strange little man. Its because I am almost as unable to navigate through our technology bound world as he. I hate uploading photos, I hate attaching files, I hate fiddling with my desktop whatever. But I adore all the uber kewl things that one can do with technology these days, so I am forcing myself out of my Blagojevichesque comfort zone and into the world of blogs and Etsy and Ebay...I have been here before, once, for a very short while. I was invited to contribute to a friends blog and I did a few times but it took such an emotional toll on me trying to upload my photo's that I fell away fairly quickly. Now that we ditched our Kodak easyshare software in favor of Picasa ( Thanks Junie!) I have actually managed to post new listings on my ETSY site YankeeDimes and again with Picasa and I am attempting to blog...I want a really visually appealing blog, and I know its not there yet, but baby steps people, I am taking baby steps!