Thursday, December 31, 2009

Can a whole week have passed? And I can barely remember Christmas! It's not that it was such a whirl, although I did make a couple trips to and from Fredericton. The 5 days that my daughter, Caley, was here were nice; even though I wasn't feeling the best, we spent some good time together. She made cookies and cooked us 2 dinners. Every year I barely make it to Christmas and then I spend my holidays trying to recuperate. This year I saw the family Dr who ordered tests and even then I had to make 2 trips to emergency for my breathing. I caught a mild bug from my students that caused a cough and a sore throat, but it dragged on and then affected my breathing.
On the trip back with my daughter we took the long way via Moncton, so that we could meet with my oldest son Jesse and his partner Karine for a meal since they spent Christmas at her parents. We then stayed at my daughter's for the night and took our car into the Subaru dealer there first thing Mon morning for some major maintenance that couldn't be done here. A four hour job turned into a day and a half, another night night and $2100 instead of $600.
Reading back over this it all sounds a little depressing, but really the family time was nice. We were very careful about our spending this year. My youngest son donated gifts to a charity in our name and was thoughtful enough to choose something to suit our interests and give us each a card with the picture of the gift in it. He donated books for me, a radio controlled race car for my husband, and a Bratz doll for my daughter. So, when the car repairs hit, it wasn't nice but more doable because we hadn't overspent. Christmas just seemed to mean more when it involved less gifting.
My last 2 New Year's I've decided to commit to being more creative each day or even a little each week. I have just finished up 2 journals, so I feel that I have accomplished something. I won't be making a new resolution. I want to continue simplifying my life, spending less, and creating more. In response to that I did a small 10 minute doodle last night as my pledge.
Today, I have to do errands, some groceries, and a little clean up, meaning there won't be much time to get into my studio. That's life though. I'm hoping to get some time in the next couple of days, and I'll try to post some better pictures.
If any readers out there struggle with adrenal insufficiency and immune system problems, I'd love to hear how you cope.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Quiet time

Yesterday I made the trip to Fredericton and back to get my daughter. I think I got very lucky with my timing, as there were accounts of snow and drizzle, but I managed to miss them. It was snowing as I drove into the city; however, by the time we were heading home, it was raining.
I'm still not feeling well; I had a chest xray which came back clear. I just cannot get my breathing under control even though I increased my cortisone. I have an appointment for a blood test at 6:30 am on Thurs morning and if I'm still like this I may pop into emergency to be checked again. I haven't had asthma trouble like this in years.
Oh well, it is making me slow down and it does serve to remind me of what is important in life. I'm feeling too low to keep up with my usual activities, so I sat on the sofa last night and watched a couple of shows with my daughter. Her taste in shows is nothing like mine; in fact I thought it was pretty bad, but it was still quality time together. It didn't have to be some great Christmas show or a touching movie. I think sometimes we expect too much, and when you let things unfold without the stress and big expectations there is no disappointment. It was nice just to quietly be together.
Today , I tried to take it easy--it's hard to move quickly when you can't breathe. My daughter made her favorite cookies while I talked and did a few small things. I think she did a better job than I would have.
I was so excited today when I checked my mail and there was a card in it postmarked from the West Indies. I participated in an art Christmas card swap and it finally arrived. Isn't it great?

I've included a photo of a t-shirt that I just finished on the weekend for my husband. I traced the outline from a photo from one of our kayaking trips, enlarged it, traced it onto freezer paper and ironed it to the t-shirt. Then I stenciled it with fabric paint. I still have to heat set it. I really like it...just hope it will stand up to lots of washings.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Still no sewing

I'm still not really feeling any better. Whatever the bug is, I feel not so bad in the daytime, though, tired and achy, but at night I have to take cough medicine before bed. Today was such a lovely day that I decided to I needed to get outside. We snowshoed with our friends to Chickadee Junction where we ate peanut butter and banana sandwiches before turning back. I had my camera, but the birds must have been well fed because they kept their distance.
Yesterday, I managed to get my tabletop tree up and I'm quite happy with it. I put my hydrangea blossoms that I cut in the fall on it and I used mostly lime green and turquoise ornaments. Also, to be different this year, I found white pom poms at Walmart. The picture doesn't really do it justice.
Tomorrow morning is my first day of Christmas break, and I'm getting up at the usual 6:30am so I can be on the road to Fredericton to bring my daughter home. I'm hoping to have time to stop at Chapter's and maybe Micheal's. I don't like to travel after dark though, so I won't have much time.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Slowing Down

Things are slowing down around here. Whether it's the cold, the increasingly shorter days, the adjustments I keep having to make to my cortisone, or a combination of all three, I'm for sure slowing down. I just don't have the same energy to create when I come home from work. I feel like curling up with a book which I don't usually do until bedtime, or watching a show while knitting. I'm not especially creative with my knitting, often sticking to basic socks or afghans. I do find the mindless repetitiveness very soothing though and sometimes meditative. There have been times when I was agitated or anxious when I picked up my knitting, and after about 10 minutes I felt that the tension had left my body.
To-night's picture is of an afghan that I'm currently knitting. I'm using a Paton's Decor with 25% wool.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Borders On Baby Quilt

I got the borders on the the little Repro baby quilt, and I must say that I quite like it. Also, I heard that our guild's UFO day next Sat is still on, so I may take it and sandwich it and even perhaps start to machine quilt it. It's pictured sideways below; I just realized I forgot to turn the photo.
When my daughter comes home on the 21st she will stay on the hide-a-bed in the rec room for a couple nights I think until my youngest son comes. Then she will move up to my sewing room (once her bedroom). I have a little desk in my bedroom which I will put my little Jem gold on in case I feel the need to do a little sewing over the holiday while I'm off for two weeks. I'm not sure how much time I'll have because we are hoping to do a day of skiing. I will drive the 3 hours to Fredericton to pick Caley up and I believe my husband and I will both take her back around the 28/29th. so, that's 3 days, and I may make a trip to meet up with my oldest sone sometime too. You never know when the itch to do a little something will hit though, so I'll be prepared.
After lunch today we went for a walk on one of our favorite woods trails. The temperature had come up from a -13 Celsius in the morning to a -8 at lunch time, and there was no wind, so it was a lovely 1 1/2 hour walk. We debated taking the snowshoes; someone had already been out with them though and packed the snow down some, so it wasn't bad to walk with boots. Next time we'll wear them and take our lunch. We didn't get any pictures today because we didn't stop. I was surprised though by this woodpecker --hairy I believe-- at my window feeder this morning. It was hanging on for dear life and did not seem to mind me taking it's picture at all. I was only about a foot or so away. The feeder is on my kitchen window right in front of my sink. I love it!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Storm Day

Today was the first storm day of the school year. I was hoping for it because I've been feeling a little sub par with a sore throat and a bit of a cough. I was up early due to said cough, so I had my breakfast and mixed up a bread dough. It was a recipe I pulled off the net with barley, rye and spelt flours. It was OK, but a little dry --could be something to do with the fact that it called for lecithin and I didn't have any. It wasn't beautiful, so no pictures.
I did try to take some pictures of the birds outside my kitchen window, and those didn't turn out either. I think I should have been using the macro setting. I'm putting one below so you can at least see the snow we had.
I usually do as much as I can get in when I have an unexpected free day; however, today I spent some time on the sofa with my knitting and crocheting. I don't know what people find to watch in the daytime!
I did get one more crocheted trim done from the book Crochet Adorned by Linda Permann. (not sewn on yet)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Ginger and Cinnamon Spice

It's not so easy to get into the Christmas spirit when the children are grown up and away and both partners are working full time. Today, however, I started to get a little niggle. It was snowing for starters, and hubby and I put the outdoor lights up. Then I made gingerbread cookies. To be different this year, I cut them all round and frosted them like snowflakes as you can see in the picture.
What I really cherish, though, is that I could smell the ginger and spice smell all day. What makes that really special for me is that I usually live with no smell whatsoever, but right now I'm on a slightly increased dose of cortisone which has allowed me to smell again.
Yesterday was our guilds UFO day at the seniors room in the arena. I always enjoy going and even if I can't spend the whole day, I go for a while and also take my lunch. It's nice to keep in touch with everyone since I work all week and don't get to socialize. I got my baby quilt put together, and then my friend Anne and I drove the 1/2 hour to a newish quilt shop. They are having a clearance sale before they close for renovations. I picked up 2 fabrics for the borders. It was not the perfect fabric; I would have liked a darker color for the first border. I want to get it done, and the next shop visit could only be after Christmas.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Art Supplies

My art supply order arrived today. I placed an order for some paper and a couple things requested by friends, and I decided to try the new Inktense pencils by Derwent. I had a quick try out on watercolor paper to see what they are like, and you can see the results below. As usual my picture doesn't do it justice. The flash made it too washed out, and without the flash it's a little dark, but seemed to show the color the best. Wow, it really is intense color. They go on like watercolor pencils only they feeel a little creamier. When the water is added they are more intense than watercolor pencils, and according to the directions they are permanent once dry unlike the watercolor pencils. Also, I tried painting over an oil pastel and it still works as a resist as you can see in the top right corner.
These are going to be fun!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Life after work

What I'd like to know is where do some people get the time and energy to carry on a life after work hours! And how does one balance everything else that one needs to do, like stay in shape? Last night I did the biking, weights, and yoga thing again. Then I put on the pyjamas, put on the TV and picked up my knitting-- a pretty full night wouldn't you agree? still I haven't sewn a thread all week.
To-night I was very tempted to veg out all night, but I did a few clean chores just to get moving, read a few blogs and was inspired to start this little painting of winter trees. I'm thinking of joining in on a painted Christmas card swap and I wanted to try out something before I commit. (In case it doesn't work). It's not finished yet--the paint was still wet.
When I took the picture and uploaded it to my computer, I found these pictures of blue jays at our deck feeder that my husband took a t lunch time today.Aren't they cute?

Monday, November 30, 2009

Me night

To-night was a "me' night. We had homemade carrot soup for dinner, and after watching some of the news, I headed for my exercise bike. after 30 minutes on the bike,I did a few weights, some yoga, and took a bath. I finally felt sufficiently relaxed to try a little sketch of a chickadee. I've been wanting to try drawing them for sometime, but I've never done animals or birds before, so I was nervous. I am also not in complete command of watercolors.
I do not want to ge tcaught in that 'need to produce a perfect picture cycle' which is why I am thinking of it as a sketch (it truly is though, as it is nowhere near a finished piece). I have to start somewhere though, and so here it is. I am tossing it out there. You can see that I am a novice, and it is quite crude, but I have gathered my courage, and I hope they'll be more.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

It's the end of a nice..

weekend. It was a rainy day yesterday which I don't mind because then I don't feel guilty about staying in all day. I cooked--turkey chili, polenta, and carrot/turnip soup. I spent some time in my sewing room, and a friend dropped over for a show and tell and some advice on a piece she is working on. Last night my husband and I watched Angels and Demons with Tom Hanks. I enjoyed it and did lots of knitting on an afghan at the same time.
Today it was not raining but very windy, so we walked the trail which is sheltered from the wind. We went to visit the in laws for a bit, and then I still had about an hour to spend in my room.
I've finished all the blocks for my baby quilt - you can see them tacked onto my design wall. I thought they sort of looked like wonky H's, but another blogger -Exuberant Color- wrote that they remind her of fences and I think they do.
I'm still working away at the bits and pieces for my little winter wall hanging. I laid out some wool roving and threads onto netting and then free motion stitched it all with water soluble stabilizer on top.
Here is the finished piece. It looks darker than it really is. I have really got to improve my photography skills!
Here it is cut into strips and sewn onto the hanging. Also, I added a tree that I made from wool fibers and a free motion zigzag.
The last photo is of another tea towel onto which I sewed a line of crocheted trim. Again, I tried this photo several times and I finally gave up on getting the trim in focus. I tried both the regular setting and the macro setting for closer objects. You get the idea anyway.
I'm heading out to the kitchen now to make a salad for my lunch tomorrow.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Fresh Air no Sewing

I just came in from a walk with my husband, and I'm going to put my pj's on soon to watch Survivor. That's the thing about a blog I'm discovering. If you want to tell about your day and your life, you have to be honest. I'm not much of a TV watcher-- after supper - news, and I usually watch an hour from 9-10. So to-night I'm confessing again to watching a television show as if I should feel ashamed. It's one of the few shows that my husband and I watch together. That's a good thing isn't it?
So, no sewing to-night but I do have a picture of another trim that I did last night for a tea towel. The pattern came from Linda Permann's book, Crochet Adorned, which I have written about in an earlier blog. I think I will also do a few little snowflakes to go with it. The deer was already on the towel.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Yoga night

I had a frantically busy day at work today. There were piles of correcting, the phone was ringing, the email was ringing, and I had an assessment to do, at the same time as I helped my students. I really needed the yoga to-night!
After a quick supper I came straight to my sewing room and did 2 more blocks for my baby quilt. As you can see below, I now have 16 blocks, randomly arranged on my wall. I want to do 4 more for another row. I was at first inspired by a pattern I saw on the net, but then discovered it was called Cross Blocks. I decided to add a second strip, and then when I turned it I discovered the little up and down motion in the horizontal strip which I really like.
No more sewing now; I must go pack something for my lunch, change into PJ's and get out my knitting to relax and watch TV for an hour. I will confess that I like the show NCIS. It's horribly corny, and I don't like the gory detail, but for some reason I've grown attached to the characters. That's what the producers wish for I guess.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Nice Sunday

I didn't get near a needle, thread or sketchbook yet today, but it was a satisfying day nonetheless. This morning I put 2 loads of clothes on the line; soon it will be too cold on most days. I'm stubborn though- I insist on hanging out my sheets all winter even if I have to wrestle them stiff like boards off the line and put them into the drier for 20 minutes.
I spent a of couple hours in the kitchen making cookies which I haven't done in ages. I also made a spinach pate which is now baking. We will have it with the salmon steaks that my husband is going do on the barbecue.
After lunch I went for a walk with a friend on a woodsy trail to a place called Chickadee Junction. There is a bench there and lots of feeders which are kept refilled by people who walk. I took a couple of pictures to add to my blog, especially for a friend who is spending time in the city to help her mother. She commented that she misses watching the chickadees in her backyard. I have not done a sketch of them yet. I just the gray jays (sometimes called gray jays) too.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A good day

All in all I had a pretty good Saturday considering that it didn't start out that way. I woke up around 6 am after a restless night. It was partly due to the H1N1 shot that I got last night--I got the one with the adjutant(sp?)-- which apparently can make your arm sore, and it did. Then I also am still trying to get back to my normal dose of cortisone, so I'm feeling withdrawal from that. One of the symptoms that one can have is mood swings, and I was definitely down this morning.
It ended up being not such a bad thing though to be up early. I made an apple crisp, did my bed linens and hung them out. Then I made myself a lunch and went off to my local guild's UFO day. The happy buzz from all the ladies always puts me in a better mood. I stayed until after lunch, then did a few errands, and came home to make supper. I even spent a little time doing some garden clean up.
The picture is of another stamped piece like the Christmas postcard. I did them both from a stamp that I made from fun foam. I drew into the foam and printed it onto fabric with fabric paint. This time I'm making a small art quilt that I will embellish and quilt, but in a snowy theme, not a Christmas theme. It's a liitle crooked--it's the photographer.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


If you're interested in beautiful dyed fabrics and other accessories, check out the blog called Candied Fabrics at the address below. She has a new website, a new look for her blog, and an amazing giveaway if you're interested. I love her little birdie designs and I also love her new Artful Houses!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

30 minutes of studio time

Little snippets of time here and there is what it's all about when you work full time. I don't always have the time to get to my studio, and sometimes I have the time but no energy. To-night was our yoga night though, so we had supper at 7pm. The I spent a half hour talking to my daughter who is probably having her busiest week of her 4 yrs of university. All her midterms and projects are due this week, and just when I talked her through all the panic and she seems to be getting prepared, her apartment gets flooded in the heavy rain on Sunday. she had planned to go to the library to work all day, but spent it instead mopping her floor. Finally the plumber came Sunday night to help. They took off the toilet and cleared the drain and yesterday the cleaners went in. On top of that she has a bad cold. She spent all day today at the library studying for the 1st midterm tomorrow.
This is all my roundabout way of saying that life just gets in the way of creating sometimes, and I like to try to relax about that and take my time when I can. If I'm too tired to sketch or do anything creative, I might put a few seams together, and maybe post my blog. Sometimes, like to-night, I just happen to have something that I finished yesterday to post. Here is a photo of another little Christmas postcard. It is based on a stamp that I made after visiting my son last year in Lunenburg, NS. I call it Christmas in the neighbourhood.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Monday night

It's a Monday night so I don't have a lot of energy to-night. Also, I started training a new teacher today who will be working with me. We hope to be moved into our new and bigger room by next week and to have taken another 8 students.
I came straight home from work, and my husband and I went out for a walk before dinner. It gets dark before 5:30 now so if we want any sun at all we head out after 4"30 when we get home. Shortly I'm going to have a nice soak and then perhaps have a little time in my studio.
In the mean time these are pictures form some things I worked on yesterday. The first are some edgings (one is on a tea towel) that I did inspired by a book I wrote about in an earlier blog post. I'll be doing some for small gifts for Christmas.
The next photo is of some blocks that I started for a baby quilt. I have a niece who is expecting after Christmas. I think the repro fabric makes such a nice baby quilt. The layout of the blocks will likely change one I have more done.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A bit of sketching, some cooking, some sewing

It's a beautiful November day today. I got up early and visited our local market today where I bought a pair of mitts made from recycled and felted wool sweaters. They are lined with fleece, and I think they will be perfect for walking, skiing or snow shoeing in the winter.
Then my husband and I went to Daley Point, a local bird sanctuary, for a walk. We took lots of pictures, and it was even warm enough for me to do a little watercolor sketch. I got a little chilled toward the end as it I was near the water, so I finished it up at home.
Before I left,I had chopped eggplant and zuchinni for a ratatouille, so that when I got home, I could put it on the stove to cook with a can of tomatoes, some peppers, mushrooms and spices. Now that supper's simmering, I can spend some time in my studio.
At Daley Point I took pictures of birch trees along the trail as we walked, so that I'll have them for reference as I work on my textured background from my last blog. Aren't these berries pretty?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

It's all about the process

One blog that I read said that they would not usually post an unfinished project. For me it is all about the unfinished project and the process I go through when I'm creating. I start with an idea in my head, and sometimes a vague sketch. I think I know how I'm going to get there, but in the process I often find something doesn't' work the way I thought it would and I try something else. this is where the "what if?" comes in.
So last week, I received a package put together for me form the Laurie swim workshop that I had to miss. There was a sample of free motion stitched bits of ribbon, yarn, and scraps of fabric. this afternoon I started playing around with it. first of all I did free moti0n stitch my own, and it is hanging to dry right now. Then I started playing with some ideas. First I tried some needle lace with little strips of fabric to look like trees. When I put it on though, I didn't like it.
Then I decided to use just one birch tree--it's plain as yet-- I will thread paint it, and I also went back and re- cut the tree, only taller so it would run off the fabric. At that point I decided it needed a background, so I cut a piece of grey Dupioni silk. Now I'm gettting somewhere.
I have to go now and get ready for work tomorrow, but at least now I think I know what I will do next.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Yoga night again

I feel like I just wrote that it was yoga night, and another whole week has passed! I've been trying to follow Deepak Choprah's advice and try to 'be' in the moment. It really does help me stay more relaxed and focused on what I'm doing at the time, but I do still feel that time is just going too quickly.
I've been working on some little blocks for a baby quilt; however, I can't seem to make up my mind on the direction yet, so I'll wait to post pictures.
I did do some more screeen printed trees--Sorry, I'm nowhere near quiting on the tree theme yet. I just keep thinking of more things to try. I think once I'm all 'treed out', I'll put it all away for a bit, and sometime after Christmas I'll start thinking about putting something together.
Then, I made a stamp on corrugated cardboard with strips of window insulation. I quite like the silvery ones.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

One of those weeks

I can't believe I haven't posted since Tuesday! It's been a busy week. Wed. night I had to sit in on interviews for a new teacher we are hiring who will be working with me when we expand into a bigger room. I also always feel the need to get out for some exercise, so that took up my other nights. Yesterday, I volunteered at the Bay Breeze Art Gallery where I have some of my work. It was such a beautiful day, --although cold--that when I got home I went for a walk down the NB Trail.
I took a few pictures for future reference in my artwork. Here's one of some moss and mountain ash berries.
I did manage to get the binding sewn onto my little cardinal wall hanging, so I can put it away until it's time to mail it for Christmas. The color is good, but I cut the binding off on one side when It took the picture.
Last night I started cutting a few squares for a baby quilt that I want to do for a niece. I noticed this block one time on the internet and I drew it out. When I went looking again this week it was called Crossed Blocks. I hadn't really thought of it in a religious way when I started it, I just liked the graphic simplicity of it, so I've decided to continue. I'm hoping once I add in all the different Repro prints it will be 'prettier'.
After I post this, I'm going outside to tie up my last few trees, help my husband with a couple of chores, hopefully before it rains, and then after lunch we will visit the in laws.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Yoga night

To-night was our yoga night. we came home, had a quick lettuce, tomato, humus and goat cheese sandwich, and then I took a bath. I just want to post a couple of pictures before I go sit down with my knitting.
You'll probably be gagging because there are more trees. I took my sketchbook to work with me today to scan my latest rubbings with watercolors. I am still totally fascinated by all the possibilities.
The last photo is of one of my Christmas fabric postcards. what do you think? I'm going to try printing some cards with it.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Creative Again - A good Day

Today, I felt better, and I actually got quite a bit done even though it felt like a very relaxing day. It started out quite early because of the time change. The story really started last night around 10 pm or so when a rain squall hit and knocked out our power. I was trying to read for as long as I could since I knew I'd have the extra hour this morning. I did read for a little while with my clip- on book light. I believe I woke up around 6:30 which of course was actually 5:30, so I made a cup of tea and read some more. I'll be adding my present reading to my book list. I'm really enjoying the book The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski. It is an Oprah book and just as the reviews on the back state, you are drawn immediately into the prose.
I've been waiting for weeks to have a chance to try my silkscreen out. I used a brown Neocolor II crayon and rubbed a relief onto the screen. Then I did several 'pulls' or prints. The first I did with plain acrylic medium onto a blue sun print background. I'm not sure if I really like it-- it reminds me of seaweed--, but I may find a use for it someday.
I did 4 more pulls using the acrylic medium mixed with a gold colored paint. The first couple are not too bad; however, the last 2 (not shown) have some areas that didn't print well. Fortunately they were on the outside edges, so I'll be able to trim them.
My husband and I also took a short walk on the NB trail around lunch time, and I snapped a few pictures for future inspiration. The following is one I took of some Mountain Ash berries.
Don't you love tree moss?