Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Finally! Got to paint again....

Oh, it felt so good to sit down and paint again! It's been at least 2 weeks, and I so needed to unwind with a paint brush in my hand. The fella on the right was finished before the holiday rush hit, but tonight I finished dressing up the one on the left. He still needs to be antiqued, but I'm very happy with the way his coat turned out. It's funny how you start with one thought on a piece and go in a totally different direction sometimes.
This fella above started out as a simple Santa with no frills, but when I started to paint him, the paint brush took over and before I knew it I was deep into a design that took much longer than I planned. Although the photo is less than stellar I hope you can see the detail. There are several layers of paints for each stripe. He was done with a Christmas ornament in mind, at least the colors are from one I have, but the different patterns were of my own choosing. So simple he ended up not being, but fun to paint in any case.
This Americana Santa has a bit different spin, but I really like the way he turned out. I can't wait to finish the antiquing and get him ready to send off. I still need to do a few more, but these are destined for Reasons to Believe.
It's time to hit the sack for the day, and I know I will have visions of Santa's and Mad Hatters and White Rabbits dancing in my dreams. I'm excited to see what the new year will bring, aren't you?

Celebrate 365 and Our AHA Artists

Another wonderful publication by Connie Porcher arrived in the mail! Yes, I'm a tad behind the 8 ball here, but the holiday rush took over and stampeded any hopes of sharing this sooner.
The line up of AHA artists featured in this issue include, besides me (blush):
Amelia Schaefer - www.sweetbfolkart.blogspot.com
Dawn Tubbs - www.boyhowdie.com
Johanna Parker - www.johannaparkerdesign.blogspot.com
Kathy Hunka - www.primsicalstudios.blogspot.com
Nancy Malay - www.nancymalay.com
Robin Seeber - www.outsidetheboxprimitives.com
Susan Verndoerhook - www.seasonalwhimsies.blogspot.com

There was an article featuring Susan and the Artistry of Poland piece she designed of which we are so proud. Yes, we do take part ownership as she is one of our group leaders and it's such a thrill to see one of our members succeed! If you haven't gotten a subscription to Celebrate 365 think about it as a New Year's resolution!

Sunday, December 27, 2009


After I finished reading scriptures this morning I sat looking at the lights blinking on the Christmas tree. I could hear the individual tinkle as each light that twinkles would go on and off. My husband is starting to find the lights annoying, but they are a part of my past, so I will cut down on the number of blinking lights in the future. I may have gone over board this year....lol.

It occurred to me that the tree is looking more and more like the one I grew up with than the one my children did.
Each year I search for ornaments that are like the ones we had on the tree when I was a child. I've found Italian indent ornaments with different scenes, though we only had one when I was growing up. I've purchased a snowman, an angel and others for my children's collections. The stencil ornaments like the Silent Night one you see above is one I want to incorporate into a design I have in mind, but we had several of those.
Oh sure, I still have a lot of the home made ornaments like the angel in the photo above, as well as the tin can lid punched heart ornament and the hand painted bird house. The counted cross stitch ornament below is another I made years ago, as well as the cinnamon star with snowman painted on him and the wooden soldier I made out of a tree branch and popcicle sticks. As my children have grown up though I have passed some of those along to them.
So why not ask my parents for some of the old ornaments? Well, after their divorce our living conditions dropped dramatically. At one point we lived in a tiny home that was pepto bismol pink with white trim. It seemed to be a favorite haven for earwigs, which are evil looking creatures that find their way into everything. It was so bad we had to shake our clothes out before putting them on as there might be one lurking in a pant leg. Ugghhh, I still get shivers thinking about it. The wood stove in the living room had a pipe that would separate sometimes so we would wake up smelling like we'd been camping. Not good for a teenager who liked to smell pretty so as to attract boys attention. The second summer we were there we had a grease fire when someone forgot to turn off the burner under the frying pan full of oil, or perhaps my little brother had turned the burner back on. Let me tell you it was a blessing in some ways. So we moved into a better place in a better location with no bugs but the occasional spider all homes seem to have. That Christmas though we discovered that our Christmas decorations were missing. They had been in the shed at the old place and were forgotten in all the turmoil going on then. We went back to find them, but they were gone. Oh, it was devastating indeed as we were so poor and surely couldn't afford to buy all new stuff! Our hearts were broken as we knew we would never be able to replace the different and what we thought were unique ornaments we had. And yes, some will never be replaced as we had done up some satin ball ornaments with sequins that turned out so pretty. Luckily for us Mom had some good friends who came to our rescue and bought us all gifts and had us over for dinner and such to help brighten our Christmas and try to make up for what we had lost. Their kindness has never been forgotten though they are long gone.

So fast forward to today, with ebay and yard sales and second hand stores as well as antique stores. I have been searching and finding some to replace the ones lost. No, most aren't in very good shape but I still hope against hope that I will be able to find nice ones that can be passed on.
Why go through all the trouble you may be thinking. There is always an air of excitement when the decorations are pulled out and we gather to dress up the tree. I remember as a child having my favorites, and yes, we did argue about who could hang what each year until Mom decided to have us take turns. She always seemed to know from year to year, who hung what the year before. My children had their own as each has a themed ornament collection so that wasn't a problem. When the tree is done we can all sit back and enjoy our efforts together. My grandson brought it home to me last week as he came over for a visit and had me sit with him on the floor as we looked up at the tree. He tucked his tiny hand in mine and made little comments on the different ornaments and we just enjoyed the twinkling lights and the time together. I want my children and grandchildren to have a piece of the past to carry forward, and I want them to feel the same pleasure we did as we dressed up the tree and then sat and enjoyed the light show on the walls and listened for the twinkling lights. I want them to have a glimpse of what it was like for us before our world came apart, and I want them to build the same memories with their children. Time is so precious, so sharing peaceful, quiet, reflective times help strengthen bonds. Sure we could do that with any ornaments on the tree, but since my children never knew my mom, I want to find ways to share a part of her in all our family gatherings. This is just one way I can do that.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Gingerbread Houses

This lovely gingerbread home was created by me years ago when we lived in North Pole, Alaska. The Fairbanks Daily Newsminer would have a gingerbread house contest every year which was a fun challenge for me. I'd learned how to create on when we were stationed on Adak, out on the Aleutian chain. The first year the Newsminer had their contest I was grand champion, and went on to win 2 more grand champion ribbons and a first place before life slowed me down. This home is entirely of ginger bread, with gum drop lights, stick candy light posts and porch columns, sugar wafer cookie shutters and flower boxes, melted Life Saver candy windows, chocolate Non-pariel wafer roof tiles, rock candy chimney, Red Vines "bricks" and loads of red hots for lights around the roof eaves as well as the trim on the windows and as embellishments on the roof. The tree is made from a sugar cone and spearmint leaves. The fence and white fancy trim on the house was made using royal icing. As I look at this house the memories flood back, of the hours of work, the tons of candy we consumed as I created these, the fun the kids had in tearing these apart on New Years day. We all entered houses one year as a family, each of the kids did their own, and they all got ribbons.
I would love to do another one for fun, but we don't have a place for it right now. So I will wait until we move to Oregon, but perhaps Emmett and I can make a little out of graham crackers. I do miss the selection of candy I could find back then. Anyway, if you have plans to put one together here's a couple of tips to keep you from going nuts. First, as you are baking the pieces as you pull them out of the oven immediately put the patterns back over the pieces and trim them with a sharp knife. Your pieces will grow as all cookies do in the oven so in order for your house to fit together you need to trim. If they get crunchy before you have a chance to trim all of them put them back in the oven to warm them up and they should soften up enough to cut. Second, make sure you bake them well. If they stay too soft, they will not hold up,especially in damp climates. The gingerbread house we made in Sitka started to sag in the middle of the roof because of the high humidity there. Third, and my last tip, melt sugar in the largest frying pan you have. You will use this for the glue to hold the pieces together. Just dip each house edge you want to attach to another in the melted sugar, place carefully and press together. It hardens almost immediately and holds all things well. Any drips you make using this will be covered with frosting so don't worry if you get a little messy. You will get better with practice.
If you do make a gingerbread house I would love to see pictures!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Featured Artist in at American Holiday Artists & Etsy Treasury

This little fella has been featured at American Holiday Artists and in an in an Etsy treasury: http://www.etsy.com/treasury_list.php?room_id=99444. Thank you to Becca of seasonsart1031 !

Monday, December 7, 2009

It's Ho Ho Christmas Time!

We have a new term around our home, "Ho Ho Christmas". My oldest grandson ( I actually have 2 now) calls everything related to Christmas "Ho Ho Christmas". When we play with play dough he asks me to make a Ho Ho Christmas tree for him and so it goes. Aaaah, the joy of having him
close! I wish the other grandchildren were closer as well, but I will take what I can get for now.
Do you think perhaps the reason Emmett came up with "Ho Ho Christmas" has to do with all
the Santa figures that keep popping up around my home? No..... it couldn't be that.........