Saturday, October 15, 2011

Central Jersey Quilt Guild

Notice the new fancy 'button' to the right?? Click it and you will be re-directed to the new home of The Central Jersey Quilt Guild. Details of all upcoming meetings and activites are posted there. Become a member and join the fun!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sticker Shock!!

The last car I purchased was in 2004. Currently my chariot has over 193,000 miles on the odometer... although the engine has a whole lot less... having been replaced a few years ago.

It took me MONTHS to find that car. I test drove everything out there... from 'whoa is me no body loves me' cars... to 'over the top out of my price range' vehicles. I decided to purchase a sturdy, reliable model know for it's longevity and safety. Once I got over the sticker shock, I happily drove off the lot vowing to drive this car for 10 years, or 300,000 miles, which ever comes first. On the fifth anniversary of ownership the odometer read 150,000 miles.

At the time I was driving to Kentucky twice a month, and an hour and a half to Pennsylvania to visit my husband in the hospital 3 nights a week. The miles were racking up rapidly. However I closed the warehouse in Kentucky, my husband passed away, and I closed my stores. Now I stay home a lot and work a little over a mile away... so the mileage rule no longer applies. 2014 will be the year I purchase a new car.

For fun I decided to check the cars that are available in 2012... just to get a feel of what's out there and how much I will have to save so I can pay cash for my new car. YIKES!!! First of all I couldn't find one car I liked... and second of all they are so EXPENSIVE! 

So... does any one have any thoughts of what car I should look at and test drive?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater

BOO!

Isn't he cute??? Last week I attended The Philly Modern Quilt Guild meeting where one activity was a pin cushion swap. I made this little guy out of scraps from my Bye-Bye Boogie Man Quilt. In keeping with the fall like weather we had a few weeks ago I was inspired to make a pumpkin pin cushion fussy cutting one segment with a pumpkin face. Black embroidery thread was used to hand sew a spider web closing on the bottom. He was so cute that it saddened me to have to give him away. I guess I will have to make another one to keep. I'm not too upset though... I got an adorable lady bug in return. Sue Morrison from The Village Quilter located in Mt. Holly, NJ made the cute little 'bugger'.

The weather however has turned nasty and ugly over the past week. Muggy, hot, depressing are just a few words I can think of... OH... oppressive... that's a good word! I don't do well in this type of weather. I melt. Living on the lake and near the ocean I am sure doesn't help the situation. All my mail is limp when I take it out of the box, envelopes unsealed. Magazine pages fold over your fingers as you turn the pages. I washed a cotton table cloth the other day, removing it from the dryer before completely dry so as to iron it more easily. I draped it over a chair to finish drying overnight and went to bed. The next day around lunch time I grabbed it to throw over the table... and it was still damp!!! I couldn't put it on an antique wooden table while still wet. UGH!!

I moved in to this house on October 19th last year. I remember the beautiful fall leaves littering my lawn a few short weeks after I arrived. This year the leaves have already begun to fall... and they are not pretty at all!! Large, dark brown, almost black crinkled up leaves. One major lesson I learned  from last year is to rake up the leaves every weekend. So many leaves fall that if you decide to be lazy and wait until they have all fallen, you will get lost in the pile!!! 

I guess with the ugly weather and nasty looking leaves it's no wonder I'm in a foul mood that I just can't seem to shake. Gee... not that the trial has anything to do with it :-)

Keep plodding through life!! It can only get better!!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

NEWSIES!


If you haven't got a clue what this musical is about... shame on you!!! You should know every word to every song, just as my family does.

Disney released the movie NEWSIES back in 1992  starring Christian Bale (yes, of Batman fame)and Bill Pullman, with Robert Devall and Ann-Margaret in supporting roles. It's the true story of the 1899 uprising and strike of New York City NEWSIES... young men and boys selling the newspapers printed by Pulitzer and Hearst. When the newpaper companies raise their prices by ten cents for 100 papers, the already poor NEWSIES band together as one large group and fight the 'big boys'. 

The movie was not a box office hit. It cost 15 million to make, yet only pulled 3 million in returns... giving it the title of Disney's largest flop. However, it has since gained a huge cult following and has now been made in to a play. Which I was fortunate enough to attend due to a birthday gift of a ticket (Thanks Lauren!).

I can honestly say I was totally entertained!!! Some songs were edited, others were written just for the play... however I still felt my toes tapping and suppressing the urge to sing along. Some beloved characters were 'cut', while others were 'down graded' or switched to make room for a new character... which wasn't totally a bad thing, I guess. The dance numbers and talent to perform them were AWESOME! I was thrilled to see the writers and choreographers kept the jazz dancing feel and ecstatic the tap dance was left in. Whoopie!

The star of the show for me was the set design. Three metal structures were used creatively as they rotated around the the stage becoming the gates of NEWSIE Square, the basement steps of Mr. Pulitzer's house, the rooftop of buildings in New York, and so many other settings. 

The ending was anti-climatic... and I think could have had more 'punch'. The writers added a 'love interest' and although it came across well I was disappointed they chose to end with that. Maybe I am just jaded by the movie ending.

What are you waiting for??? If you can't get to the play... then run out and buy the DVD. I promise you won't be disappointed!!!



Friday, September 23, 2011

Quilter ALERT!

Tuesday evening was spent in Huntington Valley, PA attending the PHILLY chapter of the Modern Quilt Guild. Between voting for upcoming officers, participating in a pin cushion swap (I got an adorable 'bug' from Sue at The Village Quilter in Mt. Holly, NJ), meeting really nice fellow quilters, and having a Trunk Show of and by designer Jessica Levitt... I was in total quilter's heaven.

Jan Crane, from Pennington Quilt Works joined me for the car ride and attended as well. By the end of the evening we were 100% in agreement that we need to start a New Jersey Chapter... NOW!!! Jan has generously offered the use of her shop to hold monthly meetings, while a few others and myself volunteered to 'get the ball rolling'.

If you are interested in helping to form this chapter, please let me know NOW! We are looking for lots of help and input to make this chapter AWESOME!

In addition, if you just want to be notified about our progress and perhaps attend our meetings, please shoot me a message.

We are also looking for ideas and suggestions... so again... shoot me a message. I will send it along to the appropriate person.

If you have a blog... please post our information as it develops... many hands make light work as the old saying goes.

Currently there are no dates or time frame. I believe discussions of holding an informal fact gathering meeting in late October or early November have been held... with the first 'real' meeting to be held in January. But again... nothing has been set in stone yet. One thing we know for sure is that our meetings will NOT be held the 3rd Tuesday of the month... for that is when the Philly Chapter meets and I for one want to attend those :-)

Pass the word along!!

This is EXCITING news!!!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Old & New Friends

As the familiar Girl Scout song goes:

Make new friends, but keep the old.  One is silver and the other is gold.

A ring is round, it has no end. That's how long I want to be your friend.

That song kept spinning in my head all weekend as I met new people, and re-connected with old friends.

I started at The Pennsylvania Quilt Extravaganza in Oaks, PA. For the first time I can remember I was not 'wowed' by any one singular quilt. Not one took my breath away. Don't get me wrong, there were many extraordinary quilts by many incredibly talented people... but I wasn't bowled over. Maybe it was the sour mood I was in. Or maybe it was the rainy weather. Maybe it was the fact that I went late in the afternoon and didn't have the excitement of a large crowd to sway me. I don't know what it was... but that didn't stop me from chatting with fellow quilters.

As I wandered the exhibits, the colors in this quilt caught my attention.


As I looked closer... I realized the color was actually made possible by hand dyed cotton string that was then machine zig-zagged on to heavy black fabric and THEN stitched together to make the quilt. The color of the thread used to zig-zag added another color dimension. Fascinating! Here's a closer look:


As I stood there soaking in the detail and saturated colors... another quilter stood by my side... we started talking... we exchanged contact information... I think we can be friends (Hi Shelia!)

Saturday a friend of mine since I was 5 years old (Hi Beth) called and invited me to join her and a group of people (Hi Jim, Dawn, & Bill) at Monmouth Park... our local horse racing park. This is not something I normally would have thought to do... but I threw caution to the wind and went. It was such a lovely day. Before the horse park I went to PADDLE DAY on the Navesink river in Red Bank, NJ... and had a delightful conversation with a member of Monmouth Boat Club (Hi Carol) and devoured a hamburger off the grill (Thanks Les!). Sprinkle in a few internet chats and phone calls from people I haven't heard from in AGES (Hi Andrea & Brian)... and it was a pretty good day.

A trip to Swedesboro, NJ on Sunday to visit my husband's gravesite (and a few others) and to attend the Wagonhouse Winery Harvest Party to listen to another friend's (and kind of relative) band (Hi Dean) ended up being another opportunity to talk with more people I haven't connected with in YEARS! (Hi Kay & Susan). On a whim I drove by another friend's that I lost contact with over the years. As luck would have it... she and her kids were on their way out to dinner... so I joined them!!! (Hi Rennie, Erin Stevie, Brian... and Gabe). Another phone call brightened my day from a friend I thought I had lost forever (You know who you are... HI). The weekend was topped off by e-conversations with an 'internet friend' I made by joining a yahoo group making BITTYs (3 1/2" quilt squares). BTW... That group is TOTALLY AWESOME!!! (Hi Sooz!)

The friends and family I have mentioned today are just a grain of sand compared to all the others I still have to re-connect with. So 'keep the light on'... I'll be headed your way. I love and appreciate every single one of you. You have all shaped my life in one way or another... and I hope I have done the same for you.


I leave you with another close up of this technicolor quilt. Notice how the purple thread over the blue looks totally different than the red thread? It's mind boggling in person.



Thursday, September 15, 2011

Natural Gas Poisoning

By now you all have been reading about my hot water heater problems... but did you have any idea how serious it was? I didn't.

I had been 'sick' for about a week. So many different symptoms made it hard to diagnose... besides, I was too sick to care. I just curled up in bed and hoped the world would pass me by. A few major "events" were happening in my day to day life, so I chalked up the queasy stomach, intestinal flare ups, migraine, head cold, sneezing, and over all 'I don't give a shit' attitude to depression. Little did I know the gas leak from the hot water heater was poisoning me.

My daughter suffered some of the same symptoms... and the dogs weren't behaving right either... but I was too sick to notice or care.

As a general rule I like to keep the windows in my house open. I can't live with out fresh air blowing in my face, especially around my nose. That's the only thing that saved me from a more serious fate.

Last week a neighbor called the fire department because they smelled gas. The firemen turned the gas to the hot water heater off... and with in 6 hours or so I started to feel better.

So... beware of the silent killer!!! You can't see it, hear it, or even smell it in some cases. Read the symptoms below and commit them to memory. I didn't suffer from all of them... but quite a few to see the pattern.

Symptoms of Natural Gas Poisoning

There are a wide variety of symptoms that may occur from natural gas poisoning. The most noticeable are:

  • Increased allergies
  • Gastrointestinal Problems
  • Fatigue
  • Forgetfulness
  • Mental Fogginess
  • Asthma
  • Depression
  • Pain and Discomfort
  • High Red Blood Cell Count
  • High White Blood Cell Count
  • Eczema
  • High Cholesterol levels
  • Pets are unexplainably ill
  • Migraines

Keep it safe!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The HELP!

The week is only 2 days long and already it has been filled with excitement.

The saga of the hot water heater continues. The pilot light won't stay lit and the new thermal-coupler  doesn't seem to do it's job... which is turn the gas off if not being heated. So......
A friendly neighbor who was walking their dog smelled the gas spewing from my basement and called the local fire department. Here I was sitting innocently at home on the computer when 2 fire trucks, a police vehicle, a rescue vehicle, and assorted private trucks with flashing lights all come flying down my street... and screech to a halt... in front of MY house!!!




Suddenly my yard and basement were a flurry of firemen hunks checking out the situation. Sadly they were all too young for me... and my daughter (who is the PERFECT age) wasn't home to enjoy the view. Too bad. The older guys just stood around and talked for a while. Another call came in about a fire alarm tripping... and POOF... they were off and running to another call. It all happened in a span of about 20 minutes. They all came... then they all left.

In quilting news today... I spent a lot of my day learning about the Philadelphia Chapter of The Modern Quilt Guild. Their first meeting of the year is next week... which I will be attending.  Jan, the owner of Pennington Quilt Works in Pennington, NJ has offered to host a New Jersey Chapter at her store if I get it up and running. Well... you don't have to ask me twice to do something like that. In the past I have started a NJ Chapter of the Smocking Arts Guild of America (for hand smocking), The Raritan Valley Youth Chorale (a chorus designed specifically for the changing voices of adolescents. We actually sang in Carnegie Hall, NYC!), was President of Hillsborough Elementary Home & School Association, and so much more. Starting a NJ Chapter for quilters is a piece of cake! So exciting!!!

                                   I even had time to take my mom to the movies. We saw The Help.
I thought the book was FABULOUS... and the movie brought it all to life. If you get a chance to see the movie... GO!

Set in the 1960's in Mississippi... it's a story of a special bond between black maids and the families they work for... and how it all changes in the 60's. I couldn't control my laughter as Minnie arrived at Hilly's door with a special chocolate pie as a piece offering. You have to read the book, or see the movie to understand the joke behind this. Apparently there were not many of us in the audience that had read the book ahead of seeing the movie... only 4 of us knew what was going to happen.

"I is Kind." "I is Smart." "I is Important." A great lesson for us all.


Soundtrack is available on iTunes. Lead song "The Living Truth" was written and sung by Mary J. Blige.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Hot Water and Bathrooms


Hot Water… Can you live without it??? I haven’t had hot water since Irene hit 2 weeks ago. Other than taking a shower… well really washing my hair… I found I can live without it.

I do my laundry in cold water. My dishwasher has a cycle where it heats it’s own water. I heat up the teakettle when it’s time to wash the dinner dishes. So what’s the big deal???

My mom lives a town away, I could always go there to take a shower, but that would then require the obligatory visit of about 3 hours and a ride in the car… when all I want is a quick shower. 

I am fortunate enough to have a friend live just a few doors down the street… with hot water.  I pack up a few things and just like camp, I hike to the indoor plumbing.  That has its drawbacks too. I feel I need to be invited over, or schedule a shower time in advance… so I don’t interrupt their evening. The other night they called at 8:30pm and asked if I needed to use the shower. Well… no, not at 8:30 I didn’t. I was immersed in a project at the moment and it wasn’t a good time to stop. However, at 11:00 I was totally ready.

So here it is, 11:00pm… I’m sticky from the muggy day and all I want to do is take a shower and go to bed. What to do? What to do? HARK! I know!!! In the spirit of making lemonade out of lemons, I decide to make this a special ‘event’.  In the kitchen I put pots of water on all four burners to boil. I gather a few candles and matches… and pour my self a glass of wine.  I head upstairs and begin to fill the tub with chilly water. It has been AGES since I’ve taken an actual bath.

All in all it wasn’t so bad. The four pots of water weren’t quite enough to heat the bath water to a comfortable level… not to mention the effort it took to haul them up there without spilling. There was no way to wash my hair and rinse it without freezing (so I skipped it), and I realized too late that the only soap dish in the tub is way up high. At least I was able to wash away the grit and grime of the day and go to sleep feeling clean.

Hot showers are still a dream to me. I'm so jealous you can take a hot shower any time you want! Short of calling in the professionals… I have tried everything to fix my hot water heater after the flooded basement. Yesterday a friend came over and actually got the pilot lit… but it didn’t hold. He’s trying again today. If it doesn’t stay lit today, it’s time to call in the big guys… and hope it doesn’t take my last nickel to pay for it.

Speaking of my bathroom… I think my daughter and I should win an award for 2 adult females (and 2 dogs) sharing (and surviving) the world's smallest main bathroom.

This is our bathroom. That's all there is. The door is on the right, the tub on the left. I am sitting on 'the throne' to take the photo and my left knee is hitting the wall at the end of the tub. The one and only electrical outlet is behind the towel and we have to open the bathroom door (which doesn't stay shut unless you lock it) for elbow room just to blow dry our hair. It's cute, it's cramped, but at least it's easy to clean. All I want is for hot water to come out of that ONE faucet. Is that too much to ask???


Monday, September 5, 2011

Bye Bye Boogie Man Quilt...

Boogie Man Quilt  is FINALLY up on etsy.com! I think it's adorable... take a look for yourself.

Boogie Man Quilt  


The next top on the machine and ready to quilt is a beautiful baby quilt. Pieced in soft pink, blue, green, yellow and white pinwheels... it is sure to become a family heirloom.

On the design board is a really different (Unique and Novel?) quilt. It's called 'The Boyfriend Shirt' Quilt and is made of upcycled (and dry cleaned) men's shirts. So comfortable... it will be perfect to snuggle in when your 'main squeeze' can't be with you.

I hope you all had a wonderful Labor Day!! I spent mine spray painting a very useful, but down right ugly chest of many drawers picked up off the curb on bulk trash night a few weeks ago. Originally used in someone's garage... it will now be in my home studio. Dear son-in-law hammered some new wood on the back and sides (permanently hammering closed one of the drawers... oops!) to make it a bit more sturdy. My dear daughter... the organized one in the family... is drooling in the wet paint anxiously awaiting the precise moment it is dry so she can fill up all the drawers with my junk (uh... treasures and tools). Before and after photos will proudly be posted this upcoming week.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Back to living on air... AGAIN!!

I tried... I really did. I took a job with Michael's Arts and Crafts... but no sooner did I start to settle in... I quit. I have major trouble working for a large corporation apparently. I was a good worker... you can put me on the cash register, restocking team, even full time in the custom framing department. I excelled in all of those positions... but I wasn't happy. Panic attacks set in as I left for work at 4:45am. I breathed through them... and MADE myself get passed them... but it only lasted a few hours. I can't continue to work at a place that gives me panic attacks and stress. It's not healthy.

In retrospect... I would probably still be working there if they hadn't scheduled me to work this Saturday, all day. In the few months I have been there I have never been scheduled to work a Saturday. Since I became 'full time' it is expected that I could be scheduled any 35 hours a week that suited the company. I made plans for this Saturday. Nothing that couldn't be changed, this time. I can't deal with the fact that Michael's 'owns' me and my schedule has to revolve around theirs. I know, I know, with so many people out of a job I should be happy to have any job at all. I get it. Besides, it's not like I have a life or anything. However, I can't get passed the panic attacks. This whole thing comes as a shock to me since I normally have no problems at all working 24/7.

I never used to be like that. I guess it's just all the garbage I've gone through these past years that make me like this. Or maybe it's that the trial is coming up. Or maybe because my birthday is friday. Whatever it is... I can't handle it, so I'm back to scraping enough money together every month to pay my bills and eat. Always a challenge.

Now that I'm back to being really dirt poor again... when did nail polish become so expensive?? I decided to buy some pink polish for my fingers and toes today, to cheer me up... but I couldn't justify the cost. $8.49???? Oh my!!! Certainly NOT in my budget!! Currently I am saving up to get a tooth fixed, so every penny counts! When you are on a shoe string budget it is such a shocker to see what you used to so frivolously spend your cash on. So tonight I will file my nails, apply oil to my cuticles and be happy with the 'au naturale' look. Pink piggies are no big deal.

So... what am I going to do now? I'm designing and sewing QUILTS!!! My first design is called Bye-Bye Boogie Man. As soon as I finish writing the directions the finished quilt, patterns and fabric kit will all be available on my etsy site. Look for it in about a week.

Bye Bye Boogie Man Quilt
on machine ready to be quilted


I'm still making charms... I just haven't had the time to photograph them and post (I'll have all the time in the world now). Not to mention a few surprises I have up my sleeve. So keep posted as I resume blogging!!!

Thank you to everyone inquiring about my safety the past few days. Irene came and went. Left me with a basement full of water and tons of debris littering my yard. I was lucky. Some of my neighbors had trees go down, docks destroyed, and boats swamped. See... being poor has it's advantages... I didn't have any of those things to worry about. My sump pump went in to action once the power came back on... and pumped out 3 to 4 feet of water in one day. This weekend I will pull everything out of the basement and wash it, dry it, or throw it out... then everything will be back to normal. At least in this house. Many of the surrounding areas still are without power... basements are still flooded... boardwalks destroyed. Michael's has been closed since Irene hit as has many stores since power has yet to be restored. We are all safe and dry. Thanks for asking!

And my book??? Whatever happened to my book plans??? To be honest I haven't written a word since I moved to this new house. If I had to guess... I think I didn't write because it made me sad... and I wanted to be happy in this new house. Well... things have changed a bit. Happiness isn't all it's cracked up to be... or rather, happiness is an illusion and I got caught up in it. So... I'll be back to writing on a daily basis... especially during the upcoming trial!

Keep safe! Be happy!

Deb






Friday, July 15, 2011

Crazy House = Crazy Life!!!

"Bark, Bark"!
"Ruff, Ruff"!
"Bark"!
"Grrrrr...."!
"Whine"!
"Sigh".

Those are the sounds in my house beginning at 6:30am. Three dogs... yes, THREE... and none of them are mine. Yet, that's MY sigh at the end.

Stephanie and Curt (Middle child and husband) have left for their fabulous trip to Thailand, leaving me to care for Emma (their beloved little princess doggie), Kai (Curt's colorful beta fish), 2 plants (barely alive as it is) and a few odds and ends to tidy up for Kreative Events.

Throw in Lauren's (Oldest child) 2 dogs, Chase (PERFECT name for him as he runs away every chance he gets) and Darla (who's afraid of her own shadow)... and things get a little crazy around here. Lauren's boyfriend, Kevin is home from the military for a spell... so she is spending 'face time' with him for a few days... again leaving me in charge.

Stir in my Mom, living in the next town needing my attention... and add a dash of starting a part time job at Michael's... and you have the perfect recipe for a crazy house.

It's funny how things come back to haunt you. I did a great job and raised 3 wonderful kids... now I have 3 crazy dogs to take care of. Somehow I don't really see a difference :-)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Charm Update

I have been busy making a Charm A Day... but have not had the time it takes to photograph and upload in about a week. Sorry about that... but I hope to catch up this week.

I have started my new part time job at Michael's. A slow and rocky beginning is finally turning into a fun job. The first 4 days found me up front training on the register. Ho-hum! B-O-R-I-N-G. My trainer commented the 2nd day that she was very impressed with how quickly I picked up the register. She was being so sweet and kind... I didn't have the heart to tell her I ran my own stores and have been running a register since before she was born. I simply smiled, said Thank You... and added that I'm not new to retail :-) She has NO CLUE on my back ground... or she would have expected more from me.

After the 4th day I was trying to remember why I thought working in a corporate world was something I wanted to do. I don't believe in some of their practices and rules... or the fact that cashiers should be answering phones when a 'live' customer is in front of them deserving your full attention. So... I voiced my concerns... and to my total disbelief and pleasure... concessions were made... and now I am happy. Especially happier now that I'm learning more of the 'biz' from the sales floor point of view. I reminded myself that I need to keep an open mind while training. If... after weeks of training... I still don't like the job, THEN I can leave. At least I will know I gave it a fair shot.

As far as charms go... I have been playing with polymer clay. Learning how to condition the clay, and make 'canes'. I can't wait to show you what I've made. This week I hope to play around with resin a bit... and see where that leads. So far I have used resin to make my Tillie Charms... but now I'm expanding in to molds.

Fourth of July I wore a necklace I made that morning with my idea of fireworks... AND in the middle of all of this I sewed new outdoor cushions for a friend so used that fabric to make a charm. All of this will be posted soon... I promise!

Keep charming!

Deb

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Day 8 - Bead Soup

I spent the day working at my daughter's house, helping her assemble wedding invitations for her business Kreative Event Services. She designs and prints the most fantastic invitations for any occasion. I didn't get home until after dinner... and then went to the movies with my other daughter. I guess you could say it was 'mother/daughter' day.

It was late when I walked through the front door at the end of my very long day... but I still had to make my Charm A Day. I looked through my stash of supplies... but no creative bolt struck me. Then I remembered a bag that was up in my bedroom... filled with beads that 'got away' during my move last October. By 'got away' I mean SPILLED all over the place!! I scooped them up off the floor, dumped them all in a bag, and then completely forgot about them... until tonight. THAT is what you call BEAD SOUP... a big mish mash of beads that don't really go together, but you don't have the patience to separate.

I reached in the bag, pulled a few out, and made 2 dangles (2 daughters... 2 dangles). I'm sure they don't look like much to you... not as creative as some of my other beauties... simply easy dangles. However, to me they look like the beginning of a wonderful bracelet. One that would not have entered my mind had the original vials not broken when I moved. How appropriate that I moved in October... and the beads are mostly black, orange, yellow, and green. Hmmmm... freaky huh?


Eureka! The Bead Soup bag also held my good jewelry tools that my friend Andrea gave me a few years ago (Hi Andrea!). I had been looking for them, to no avail... so went out and purchased a small travel set. It will be nice using GOOD chain nose pliers that actually GRIP when you need them to. Now... if I could only find one of the two pair of crimpers that I KNOW are here somewhere!!!

Have a charming day!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Day 7 - Suede Flower

It's 10:45pm and I haven't made my charm for today. Instead I am participating in the weekly online chat session with the art charm group... again soaking up their creativity and kindness.

The conversation headed in the direction of shopping at thrift stores, estate sales, and garage sales for unique items to use in crafting. I was reminded of the fabulous HOT PINK suede skirt I picked up for $2 at a local thrift shop... knowing for certain that I would find a use for the fabric. Not to mention the skirt was a size 4!!! Maybe, just maybe my right leg would fit in a size 4... maybe.  


So for today's charm, I ran upstairs, grabbed the skirt and began cutting. I reached in to one of my many jars of old buttons ( a goodwill find) for the center of the flower and tied it all together with some embroidery floss (purchased from a garage sale). Added a bead and a jump ring... and I had myself a charm!


In the interest of full disclosure I should mention that this is a 'repeat' charm. I made others for my flower swap... however THIS ONE was made this evening. The photo doesn't do the colors justice. The flower is HOT PINK, the top button is turquoise, and the thread is orange. Very bold and striking.

Have a charming day!

Deb

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Day 6 - Sunshine? Ship's Wheel?

For the past 6 days you have been following my Charm A Day challenge. Your emails have been so inspiring!!! Thank you! However, I'd like to tell you about how I got started. 

One day I was killing time at my local Jo-Ann's store. The cover of this book caught my attention.

So I bought it. For those of you who know me, you are in shock... right??? As a bookstore owner I can order any book, any time at wholesale. Why would I pay full price? Why??? Because I wanted to read this book NOW... not in a week... NOW! 

I drooled over each and every page and picture.  The authors, Peggy Kryzewski and Christine Hansen are charm goddesses! According to this book there were Art Charm SWAPS going on behind my back. All these wonderful little bundles of goodness were being shipped all over the world and I wasn't getting any!! So I grabbed my computer and started searching for Swaps. I landed on a new group forming on Yahoo... so I joined. It was weeks later that I found out the moderators were the very same authors I drooled over. Surprise!!!

I'm hooked! I love making and receiving charms. To check out where I get my inspiration... go to Peggy's blog: http://artandsoultoo.blogspot.com
and Christine's: http://www.christinehansen.com/

Better yet... JOIN US! Check us out at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ArtCharms/

On to Day 6...


It's been raining all day today. HUGE thunderstorms. Dark, dreary, muggy day. BUT... sunshine filled my heart and soul when I saw my reservations came through for a trip to Florida in November (Thank you Catherine and Dan for your timeshare). As I was making today's charm I was thinking... Sun, funky sun. My hands made a ship's wheel instead. Funny how I planned a totally different charm than what actually emerged. Art has a way of doing that :-)

I hope your days are just as challenging.

Thanks for looking!

Deb

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Day 5 Flower Charm

It's day 5 of making a Charm A Day... and I haven't even begun to sweat. In honor of my new job at Michael's a friend bought me flowers... well actually a plant with flowers on it. So... my charm today is a flower made of buttons, beads, and wire. It looks much better in real life, but you get the idea.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Day 4 - Tillie Charm

Day 4 of the 365 days of making a Charm A Day. I still find the challenge fun. It seems to give me 'permission' to craft after dinner instead of cleaning, doing laundry, getting ready for the next day, etc.

I sold a few pewter Tillie Charms on my etsy shop today... so I thought it was time to play around with the same image except using polymer clay and a water slip transfer technique. All in all things went well, however the directions called for a film of liquid clay to cover the image for durability... and THAT layer rippled. UGH!! Up to that point the images were clear and strong. Knowing that the image should be protected some how... liquid clay is NOT the answer. Next week I'll try using resin.

Any way... here's the final charm:

Day 3 Father's Day Tie

I just couldn't resist making a tie... out of a tie for Father's Day.



As simple as this looks... it took longer than I thought it would... with a lot of 'trial and error'. A total of 4 attempts finally gave me the charm I wanted.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Day 2 - Bird's Nest

I love the way this charm turned out. It was a little rough on the fingers, but worth the effort.

I found a bird feather on the beach the other day... then I saw a photo of a bird nest charm another 'art charmer' made and was inspired to make this charm. 

It was a little rough on the fingers, but worth the effort.

Friday, June 17, 2011

I'm baaackkkkk!

Well... I wasn't off the blog-o-sphere for long, now was I??? I realized that blogging was fun... and now I have a REASON to blog... I've decided to make a CHARM A DAY for the next 365 days. Yup... all 365 of them. I wish I could say that it was my idea... but no. I had been thinking about the idea for a while now... but last night's Art Charm Chat brought it back up again. Some one mentioned it, my brain clicked, and here I am.

My goal is to make one charm everyday. Using all different techniques and skill sets. It's a way for me to expand creatively and have cute little charms as a result. I really enjoy making these little critters. They're addictive.

Some will have a story behind them, and with posting and journaling I should be able to look back in a year in awe at all I have accomplished. I am certain that some will be easy little nothing pieces... but don't we all have days like that???

To start... here is my very first charm....  

I spent the day at the Township Public Works office making arrangements for someone (besides me) to assist my mom with her weekly trash cans. So... I made an origami heart charm out of junk mail. Day one, COMPLETE.

Posting daily might be too cumbersome, so if you want to follow my progress I would suggest checking in once a week.

Feel free to post comments and cheer me on!!!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Signing Off...

Thank you all for following my blogs... but now it's time to say goodbye. This will be my last blog post.

I've decided that I'm spending WAY too much time on the computer, and not enough time on the things that really matter to me... in the real world.

It's been fun... and if I ever decide to add my 2 cents to the blog world again, you all will be the first to know.

In the meantime... keep smiling... keep creating, and above all else give your sweetie an extra little squeeze.

Deb

Self Proclaimed Artist


How does someone become an artist? Everyone has the ability to 'make art'. Some people use paint and paper, others use fabric... then again others create using sod and bushes. Art can be made with anything and everything. So... at what point would you call someone an 'ARTIST'? Is a landscaper an artist? How about a house painter?  A hairdresser???

A few weeks ago I proclaimed myself an artist. How pretentious is that??? I made the decision to give myself permission to tell total strangers that I am an artist. I then proceeded to paint a local icon, Tillie in watercolor. From there I printed Tillie on pillows, postcards, and made charms... and sold them at a local outdoor show. The charms and postcards were a hit... and I made enough money to repay all of my original costs with a little left over to pay for my mother's birthday dinner. All in all I was quite happy with the whole experience.

The original watercolor of Tillie was prominently on display. I thought the painting would be an 'attention grabber' and it added a nice focal point for my booth. The surprise was on me however, as quite a few interested customers inquired to PURCHASE the painting. Silly me never thought to actually sell PAINTINGS of Tillie. Wouldn't a REAL artist have thought of that??

Attending this show has taught me a lot. Not only the commitment it takes to get everything organized and ready for a show, but the strength and fortitude it takes to put yourself 'out there' for total strangers to see. You squirm as they scrutinize your painting, not knowing where to look... should you ignore them... or engage in conversation? I usually choose to engage. I slap a smile on my face, take a deep breath and ask, "Can I answer any questions?"

"Oh" they reply, "Are you the artist"?

Gulp. "Yes. Yes I am"... And I steel myself for whatever comments they might have. Some good, some bad... but hopefully constructive.

So I guess I can officially call myself an artist... although I'm not rushing out to print that on my business cards yet.

I urge you all to go out there and CREATE!!! Proclaim yourself to be the artist you know you can be. If I can do it... anyone can!!! Use whatever skill you have and enjoy... then MAKE SOMETHING!!! You too can be an ARTIST... just give yourself permission!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Charmed... I'm sure

I had a wonderful week long vacation in Williamsburg. There was so much to do and see... and since it was impossible to 'do it all' the EXECUTIVE decision was made to relax, see what was interesting, and come back at a later date and see more. Ahhh... I think this was the first time I returned from a vacation where I didn't feel as if I NEEDED a vacation. Thank you Les and Judy for the use of your timeshare.

This past weekend was the neighborhood wide GARAGE SALE. I participated by allowing everyone to pick as many books as they could carry... for FREE... from the dregs of closing the bookstore. I was THRILLED to see so many books go to good homes (and out of mine), although I feel as though I haven't made a dent in the mountain of boxes still here. I think I need to make this a monthly event.

Ocean Grove, NJ is holding it's annual Antiques and Flea Market Event on Saturday, June 4th. As a 'wait lister' I was given a call the other day to say that a space has become available for me!! I am sewing and crafting like a mad woman to get enough things together to sell. My 'Tillie" painting has become the basis of all that I'm making. Pillows, purses, totes, and Charms are just a few of the items. If you are in the area... come say, "Hi". I'm in space 608.

Tillie Charms!!

This coming week is really, really, really busy!!! A quick peak... Scott is coming home for the Premiere of Blue Collar Boys... a movie he worked on before moving to California; Volunteering for Brides for Breast Cancer; Working a wedding with Stephanie, and assembling invitations for her business, Kreative Events... and trying to make enough things to have an awesome booth on June 4th. OH... I think there's a holiday in there somewhere too... Have a Happy one!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Busy! Busy! Busy!!

YIKES! April just FLEW by... without one blog from me. So... what HAVE I been doing instead of blogging??? Let's see...

The basement door needed a face lift:

Before... Boring!
Inspiration...
Blackboard Paint!
Now becomes a menu/memo board.
 GENIUS!!



Beautiful old chairs needed to be re-covered:

Before
After



Hosted Easter Dinner:
Delicious Coconut Cake for Dessert



Sister-in-law Judy visited for the week:

Notice the door???


Attended the Royal Wedding... in my TIARA and PJs:

Tiaras, Tea, and Blueberry Scones
for the Royal Wedding


Adopt An Ancestor

Winged Jewels




Made CHARMS for my Art Charm Swap Group:











Mailed out books sold online:


Wrapped and ready to mail
Attended court for Pre-Trial: 


Fabulous painting above judge's bench
Trial set for week of October 3rd




Cooking up a storm as usual:


Meatballs ready for the oven




Sewed my first Bitty Blocks for a quilting swap:


It's only  3 1/2" square!




Got Chase 'fixed':
Too funny!!!!




Finished my LEAVES watercolor:


Falling Leaves




Painted Tillie... The Asbury Park icon and am sewing pillows and purses with my art on them... because I signed up for table space in an outdoor show in Ocean Grove, NJ on June 4th to sell them!
Tillie
And THAT's what I've been up to! How in the world did I EVER find time to go to work???

Monday, March 28, 2011

Hit the SPOT!

Sorry for the HUGE gap in posting. I finally am back on track!

Twenty years ago I was vacationing in Maine. My Sister-In-Law and I were relaxing on the deck over looking the lake, the kids safely tucked in the cabin below. We poured a glass of cold White Wine Cooler, and sliced up a few cubes of blue cheese and celery sticks. With the cool evening air blowing on our sun burned skin... it has etched in my memory as the perfect moment. The wine and cheese HIT THE SPOT.

Three years ago I drove 14 hours straight to visit friends in Knoxville, TN (Hi Andrea). The drive was uneventful, even a little fun. Singing current radio hits and show tunes at the top of my lungs and listening to books on tape kept me focused on my driving. Upon arrival I was greeted first by their boys yelling, "Miss Deb is here! Miss Deb is here!" as they burst out the front door. My heart melted at the sound of their voices. Standing in the door way was their Dad, Nick holding a FROSTED mug of beer out to me. Ahhhhhh... another perfect moment filed away in my brain to be pulled out to comfort me when needed. Boy, that frosted mug HIT THE SPOT.

I was fortunate enough to have another HIT THE SPOT moment the other night. I met a friend for dinner at a place 'known' for their burgers. He ordered one... but I decided to throw caution to the wind and ordered steamer clams and a salad instead. They were delicious! Perfect! As I cracked open their shells, washed the sand off and dunked them in a pool of melted butter goodness I felt so spoiled... like a princess. Apparently my friend was just as happy with his meal. We both sighed, smiled contentedly, and remarked at how perfect the meal was.

Good Friends... Family... and good food all make for the most fabulous moments you will never forget.

Go out there and make your own HIT THE SPOT moment!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Fly away...

Ahhh.... I FINALLY get to go away where the sun shines all day, and the ocean is clean and pretty. It's only for a few days... but that should be enough to raise my spirits. Just like a flower... feed me, water me, and stick me in the sun... and I THRIVE. Keep me in a dark, cold place and I live, but begrudgingly.

However... since LIFE isn't always fair... in order to play in the sun one must work their butt off before they go... and most likely play 'catch up' when they return. Such is the way it is in my life.

I am back to selling books on the internet... and doing quite well. Slow and steady wins the race, so I'm adding books a few at a time on a daily basis. In the past I would throw all of my inventory up on line in one giant move and then go crazy packing and shipping. Semi-Retirement (or maybe old age) has taught me to take my time... think the process through... pay attention to placement. My patience is paying off.

Working for my daughter, Stephanie brings brightness to my day. She runs her own business... Kreative Event Services (her ESTY shop is kreativees) . Her main item is Wedding Invitations... however she does invitations for all of life's celebrations also... and favors... menus... etc. She deals with the customers and does the design work... and I'm a worker bee. Lately she had me silkscreen a flower on to the front of a Wedding Invitation... and the next minute I needed to sew a table runner and ring bearer's pillow. In the next breath I was Hot Foil Stamping paper napkins and business folders... and today was spent at her house assembling these fabulous Booklet Wedding Invitations. You never know what she will have me do next. It's exciting!!

It's kind of sweet knowing your kids think you can do EVERYTHING. When they were itty bitty kids they knew you could scare the big bad monsters away from under their bed at night. A kiss on a boo boo made it all better. Whip up a paper-mache volcano? Sure. Make a Dolphin Halloween Costume for the school parade the next day? No problem. Teach them to drive? Piece of Cake. THEN... we go stupid. THEY know EVERYTHING... and we know NOTHING. One day, out of the blue with absolutely no warning... they decide we are not as dumb as we appear (although we are still considered old and feeble) and THAT is how I get suckered into doing these crazy projects. How can you say NO to a child that thinks you can 'do it all'?  

Below are photos of the silk screen job. I don't really have silk screen equipment. If you look closely you will notice I used a lot of duct tape, masking tape, cardboard, plastic cups, and ingenuity. To burn the screen I rigged a work light hanging from my guest bathroom towel bar, a cardboard box, and a black plastic trash bag. The only item I spent money on was the silk screen itself... and I got that at Michael's with a 40% off coupon. Actually, I could have used an old pair of panty hose and an old frame... but I haven't worn panty hose in YEARS, so it was actually cheaper to just buy a silk screen already made.

Flat surface made of cardboard and duct tape... using plastic cup as a 'leg'... and duct tape is a hinge at top.

Using cardboard and masking tape for registration.

Overnight drying and dining table.

Close up of finished screened lotus.


If I didn't have the stuff to silk screen, why did I take the job??? Because no one said I COULDN'T do it. We all just assumed I could. THAT'S the power of positive thinking.  Remember Thomas the Tank Engine??? I THINK I CAN, I THINK I CAN, I THINK I CAN... I KNOW I CAN, I KNOW I CAN, I KNOW I CAN. Just wait until you see what I THINK I CAN do next!!! I'll give you a hint... it involves my bedroom walls... and I have no money for wallpaper. BUT... I have to head south and warm up a bit first.

Stay warm and THINK POSITIVE!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Shhhhh...

Believe it or not, I have only uttered 10 words in 20 hours. How many of you would have bet money that I couldn't have done that?? My throat has been sore and raspy for the past few days (weeks maybe?) so I decided to just give it a rest. Yesterday I was SHOUTING just to be barely heard. Speak about straining your voice!! 

My daughter, Lauren 'got me' and I answered, "What?" to something she said. Then the dogs were acting up and I had to remind them to NOT PLAY ON THE SOFA. Other than that... I stopped speaking at 7pm yesterday... then whispered off and on for an hour around dinner time... and then back to the silent treatment. When I awake tomorrow I will go back to speaking, and hope that the rest did wonders for my throat.

You know, when you are not speaking it's kind of funny to watch people react. Everyone begins to whisper... automatically. It makes the world a gentler and kinder place. I didn't answer my cell phone... except for one call from a person that knew I wasn't speaking. Hmmm... were they testing me, or did they forget I wasn't speaking? I'll have to think about that.

I suggest everyone give this a try for a day. It wasn't hard at all. I thought it would be, but since I no longer have a job outside of the house it wasn't hard to just glue my mouth shut.

Swallowing seems to be easier, and my throat isn't as sore as it was, so I guess the craziness is working. Who knew???

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Time Out...

After working hard for a few days I thought it was time to take a break. So I dug through some un-packed boxes and un Earthed my watercolor paints and brushes. Just the other day I remembered a sketch I had made of all the beautiful leaves that fell this Autumn... and decided that today was the perfect day to get started on it.
Tri-Color Maple Leaf

Oak and Red Maple


   In my head I envisioned a very loose and stylistic leaf... which I planned to outline a little 'off' with a very fine line Sharpie marker.  As you can see in the photos above my hand had a different vision... a much more realistic view. That's OK... you have got to go with the flow. You see... when creating anything you mistakenly think YOU are in control... as the piece develops you realize your hands are taking direction from some other creative, mystical power.  I can't wait to see the finished picture. I'll be just as surprised at the end result as you.

Have YOU ever created something that turned out totally different than what you planned? Was it better than you thought it would be... or worse? Leave a comment below and let me know.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!!!

This Valentine's Day I will be happily clinking and clanking. I joined an Art Charm Swap Group... and obviously this month's swap was 'heart' related. 30 of us 'charmers' across the US made 30 charms and sent them to the hostess who sorted all 900 of them and sent each of us 30 back... all different. I decided to make a bracelet out of mine... and wear it in honor of St. Valentine.

Ohhh... Ahhhh... All so pretty.

As a general rule I am not a fan of Valentine's Day. I believe it puts un-necessary  stress on all the poor males on the face of this Earth. If you all need a specific date on a calendar to remind you to say, "I Love You"... then you are not saying it often enough throughout the year. According to the shopping guru gods, it is predicted that the average male will spend somewhere around $116.00 on a gift or dinner out... for a total of over $51 BILLION being spent on this Hallmark Holiday. Come on guys... keep your money in your pockets and show some creativity... Let your Valentine know how you feel WITHOUT doing the same old thing everyone else is doing. Feel free to help the economy by purchasing something else on another day with that money instead.

Valentine’s Day is named in honour of Saint Valentine, the patron saint of lovers who, it is believed, was murdered on Feb. 14 AD 270. During that time, the Roman emperor Claudius II cancelled all marriages and engagements in Rome, as he was having a hard time getting men to join the military, and he believed married men, being emotionally attached to their wives and families, did not make good soldiers.
However, Valentine secretly married couples until he was caught, then, refusing to renounce his Christian beliefs, was sentenced to be beaten to death with clubs and have his head cut off.
One legend suggests he left a farewell note for the jailer’s daughter before his death which said “Love from your Valentine,” the first Valentine’s card.
It was the pope who set aside Feb. 14 to honour St. Valentine in AD 496. However, the day was not often celebrated until the Middle Ages. Gift giving and exchanging of hand-made cards became common in England around the 18th century, while in the 1840s the holiday caught on in the United States.
This year I am giving Hallmark a break. They came out with a TV commerical for the holiday that I actually liked. It states... Valentine's Day isn't a day for me to say I Love You... it's a day to say I Love Us. Awwwwwww... How sweet is that???

The Discovery Channel just had this whole show on Love, Lust, Sex Appeal and such. The most interesting story was how the brain works when you are in love. Dopeamine is released in the brain when you meet someone and fall in love. Scientists put a happily married man in a brain scan machine and showed him a series of photos. After 20 years of wedded bliss Dopeamine was still released when he was shown a photo of his wife. Now THAT'S a Valentine Gift!!!

So... grab the one that releases your Dopemine and tell them how you feel. Give them a huge HUG and KISS and never let them forget you love them. Keep Valentine's Day in your heart and life each and every day. And for all of you without a Valentine... feel free to send any and all chocolates and flowers my way :-)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Poor As A Church Mouse

So… when do you really know when you have hit rock bottom? When I had to borrow money from my daughter to get my car fixed I thought that was pretty low; however that all went well. I still owe her the money… but at least I know it is coming and that debt will soon be paid.

Making daily decisions about what to (or not to) purchase is becoming fun. I make it a game. First I decide if it is something I really, really, really need… and then shop around until I feel I have gotten the very best price possible. Substituting store brands for comparable name brands is usually a ‘no brainer’.  Scouring store aisles for sale items is as fun as winning a contest. There are some things I simply won’t skimp on… take toilet paper for example. There is no way in the world I would purchase a cheaper quality of toilet paper. It has work to do… and it has to be soft.

Gas prices are rising so high that filling my tank has become a ‘luxury item’ purchase.  Going places further than my town requires thoughtful consideration. Can I afford the gas it will take to get there… or do I need to save my cash for monthly bills?  I am not always happy with the obvious answer. But that is not when I felt I hit rock bottom.

TODAY is the day. You might think this is silly… but the underwire of my very expensive name brand bra broke through the seam and is pinching under my arm. It hurts. I can’t afford to purchase a new one. THAT’S when I felt I hit rock bottom. Yes, I have other bras… but this one is my favorite. It fits well, feels good, and doesn’t show through my t-shirts. I have tried many other brands… they don’t even come close to my favorite. So the big question today is… where can I scrape up the $40 I need for a replacement?

I worked a side job this week and earned enough for 2 bras… BUT… the title to my car got misplaced during the move and I have to purchase a replacement… for $60… then re-register my car… another $70. Yet another decision made on the side of practicality and an empty bank account.

Please don’t think I’m complaining. I know there are many others out there in the world that would love to have a fraction of the things I do. There is a roof over my head, heat, lights, all the comforts of home. I have my health, my family and friends. Other than a non-pinching bra what more do I need?

On the bright side… by opting to stay home instead of running around I find the house is cleaner. Oh… and I have kept my windowsill herbs thriving for over 4 weeks!!! Generally plants have a life expectancy of about 2 weeks when under my care.

Parsley, Basil, Thyme, and Mint


Everyone has time tested cost saving tips. What’s YOUR’S??? Leave a comment and help me out.