Friday, February 27, 2009

The Middle Child

I have written on this blog about the Birthdays of my oldest son Jeremy and most recently, my youngest son Robert. I must have been having great times around May and June every year in the 80s, as all of my boys were born within a 5 week period. While we were in Vegas celebrating Robert's 21st, my middle son Ryan was gearing up for turning 26 just 2 days later. The title of this post is 'The Middle Child' because I was thinking about one time when he was 7 or 8 years old and he was getting into a little trouble-can you imagine that? After a couple of particularly trying days with him, I sat him down to have "the talk" with him. After going through the list of things he had been doing, I asked him if there was something going on that was upsetting him and causing these problems. He thought about it for a minute and then looked at me very seriously and said "Maybe it's 'cause I'm the middle child". Believe me, this was a sign of things to come. He has always been so precocious and nothing ever got past this kid. He started keeping all of us in line the day he uttered his first words. As I mentioned in my earlier post, he attained his degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Aerospace Engineering and minored in Business in only 5 years. He is amazing and I am so proud of him. He is a very non-stereotypical engineer in that he is always the life of the party and brings fun with him wherever he goes. He is living in Dallas/Ft. Worth and I miss him every day of my life. Happy Birthday, my Sweet Son. You are more than I ever hoped for and who you are is absolute perfection.

Ryan with my Grandcat, Nikha.

Good Art, Good Friends....

So it is that I have had so little time to post of late, that I am feeling particularly loquacious (Or whatever the word is for wanting to do lots o' typing) today. I want to tell a little about my adventures in Artland. I belonged to a group that met once monthly to exchange ATCs (artist trading cards) up until December, when life decided I needed to do some other things. I am currently getting my need to create fulfilled by participating in a few swaps through an online group. It is my true belief that the reason I joined the ATC group to start with was that I was introduced Dawn, who has become a great friend and a wonderful source of artsy inspiration for me. She and I have done a couple of lunches when I was in Phoenix, but she invited me to her home for a whole day of crafting fun a couple of weeks ago. We are both participating in a chunky book swap with the theme "The Wizard of Oz". How fun is that? I chose to do 2 pages, which adds up to 40 since you do 20 of each page. My pages were 'The Wicked Witch of the West' and 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow'. Dawn had 'The Lollipop Guild'. We decided that, since we had only a few days to finish and we were both a bit behind, our pages would be our project of the day and we spent the largest part of the day working on our pages and bouncing ideas off each other. I had kind of hit the wall in regards to inspiration with it all, and Dawn was a great help in seeing things from a different perspective. Part of the fun of doing this whole thing was that I got to see Dawn's lovely home. It is decorated to perfection, as I knew it would be, and you can see all of Dawn's artistic ability and flair throughout. Dawn prepared a lovely salad for our lunch. It was so pretty I needed to take a picture. It had all the best components-aesthetics, nutrition and yumminess!!! I also met her doggie, Pumpkin, who is every bit as sweet as she is cute. And the coup de gras was meeting her Hubby, whom I have heard about for months. I always love to hear someone speak in loving words about their spouse, and Dawn really loves her guy. As it turns out, he is really such a nice man and I am happy that I finally got the chance to meet him. Our next feat will be getting all of us together as couples to have dinner. We are all limited by schedules, but I think we will get it together one of these days. Here is a peek at my pages in progress. I have some of Dawn's as well, but don't want to spill the beans for her until the books are in the hands of the recipients.
The pages on the right are the Rainbow, but these are the back sides, which we are required to decorate at least a little so that the page is not stark white. When I receive the book all together, I will post some photos of my pages as they ended up. As with most projects of this magnitude, I was still adding to them an hour before I put them in the mail. It seems we are never completely satisfied with our own work, but I was very happy to get them on their trip to Phoenix. Cannot wait to see the finished product.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

To be 21 again!

Well, I am finally posting again after 13 days! I get so impatient waiting for others to post when I am following their blogs, so I guess I'm lucky that I have so few followers. HAAA! That's for you, Ryan! Lots going on since my last post. This past weekend was the 21st birthday of my youngest son, Robert. He decided several months ago that this auspicious occasion would be marked by road-tripping with some of his friends to Las Vegas. Is this not the dream of every person leading up to that important birthday? Well, he actually DID it! I have to say that I was quite impressed at his ability to save money for the past few months in anticipation of his trip. He received mostly money for birthday gifts, but saved enough to cover the entire venture. He went with 4 of his friends from the University and had the extra special bonus of his BF from elementary school, Josh Bruner, flying in from his new home in Arkansas to join the festivities. While we were happy and excited for him getting the opportunity to live the "turning 21 dream", we also felt a bit blue at missing out on such a special day. Never let it be said that we don't make our presence known to our kids, possibly to their dismay at times. We told Robert that we wanted to pay for a dinner on his actual birthday and made reservations at a restaurant of his choosing (Planet Hollywood). What he didn't know was that his brother Ryan flew in from Dallas, his step-dad Mike flew in from Albuquerque and his brother Jeremy and sister-in-law Stephanie drove in with me from the Wood. It was enough to make me jump out of my skin as we waited for his arrival at the restaurant on the big night. When he and his friends were being seated, we all rushed in to surprise him. He was totally blown away and we could watch as it dawned on him that we were ALL there. He is such a sweet young man and went out of his way to tell us over and over that this little surprise made his birthday. As the mom of this group, I was so touched and humbled at the way my kids were so willing and excited to do what had to be done to make their brother's birthday so memorable. To say we had fun together would be to sell it very short of the reality-we had a ball! My middle son, Ryan (he hates it when I add "the aerospace/mechanical engineer") became fast friends with all of Rob's posse. As he puts it , he "is the party" anywhere he goes. While Robert was actually in Vegas for 3 nights, the trip was a quick one for the rest of our family, with all of us leaving Vegas the next afternoon. My camera did its normal act and I don't have photos yet. My sweet Daughter-In-Law took bunches and I will post them as soon as I get them.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Very Lucky Mom

I will tell anyone who will listen that I am the Mother of the 3 most amazing, loving sons in the world. I know they get tired of hearing how proud I am of them and how very blessed I feel to have them. This morning is one example of what makes me so very lucky. I was going about my daily morning routine when the doorbell rang. I heard the telltale "thump" of the UPS man drop-and-dash, which always gets me excited. What I saw was a box from ProFlowers and I assumed my Hubby was doing a little early Valentines-ing. When I opened the box I was immediately overcome with tears and gratitude. They were beautiful tulips from my youngest son (the baby) Robert. My Robbie is a Junior at NAU and has just been away from home for a little over a year, but I miss him every day. Being that he is the youngest, he and I had quite a period of time with just he and I at home and became very good friends. I have always known how blessed I was to have him feel that way towards me when most kids that age are at odds with their parents. He has grown into such a sweet and thoughtful young man and I am so proud. He works and goes to school, so every cent is very necessary, which just shows how sweet he is to send me flowers. The card was so beautiful and I will share this little bit "I love you and miss you always"...Oh, my heart! My cup truly runneth over. I must also share with you that my sweet Kitty, Vanessa, always thinks flowers are delivered expressely for her sniffing pleasure. So I thought it quite fitting that she jumped in the frame as I snapped the photos. Happy Day Before Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Wassup in "the Wood"

Cottonwood, that is. I am happy to say that I live in a Northern portion of Arizona. I am happy because this means we have it a bit easier in regards to heat than does the rest of the state. A few days ago we had our first, and most likely last, snow of the season and I was reminded of the first time I ever saw snow on a Saguaro cactus-what a sight! Just seems very unnatural when you consider that these cacti thrive in 120 degree weather.
Not much new here, so thought I would show you some random photos. I have been practicing my photog skills, so bear with me as I learn.

Look at all these scrumptious trims! I have belonged to the best-ever artsy paper kit club for a few years now. Each month I receive a kit just packed with wonderment and I had years worth of a few yards of this and that. I decided the only way I would ever use it would be to make it easy to look at. My solution was to wrap it around these strips-doesn't it look cool?

I mentioned that I am participating in a book swap (photos to come). This is a page I made for a swap called the "Funky Chunky Book Swap". It was comprised of a zentangle I made and copied onto a transparency. Then I attached the transparency to a piece of unprimed canvas, added some fibers (stitched onto the canvas) and painted on the edges. It was only the second piece I have done in B&W. The book ended up with 20 different pages and it's definite eye-candy.
Remember all the sweet goodies I received from my New Friend in Italy? This was my work table when I was putting together the gifts I sent her. She has not yet received them, but that's another story. Help us put out vibes that will get the gifts to her doorstep.
I have been so taken with all the little vignettes I have seen on the various blogs I visit. This is one end of my Valentine's grouping in our living room. It sits on a sofa table directly placed behind my, uhhmmm...sofa!

The other end of the table.

My newest swap is a book based on "The Wizard Of Oz" How cool, huh??? This is a sneak peak of the page I am making for The Wicked Witch of the West. I felt so lucky to get her for my page. I am also doing a second page for the Rainbow. I am a bit regretful of signing up for 2 pages, as that actually equals making 40!!! I wanted to make 2 so that I would end up with 2 copies of the book. My plan was to give one to one of my very favorite artsy friends, but I found out she was a late sign up. I have a new plan for the second book, but it's a secret. Shhhhh.....

A pretty picture of our little town after a rain. This was about 2 weeks ago and the air smelled heavenly. I noticed after the rainfall that my little doggie's feet didn't have to be washed after her walk. I love the rain...

Another peek at the Witch page. These are silhouettes that I cut out and then embossed with black embossing powder. Hard to picture the final product, no? They look pretty sinister all lined up here. And curled up too!
I started making these tiny picushions right about the time I sent my parcel off to Italy. Guess I wanted to keep going with the Valentine's theme. This one turned out OK, but you shoulda seen the first one! HA!!!!
Our bedroom. Notice the floppy sham edges. I have since stuffed them so they stand upright. Took me a minute to figure that one out, but they look much better.
Our living room fireplace. I am working on "framing" the photos I shot, and you can tell it is still a work in progress. But this gives you an idea of what it looks like.
And last is the canvas I made in my Tim Holtz class a few weeks ago. It started with a blank canvas to which we applied old dictionary pages, aged and distressed them and then used various techniques on his Grungeboard letters to form whatever words spoke to us. When I saw this on another website I wasn't all that taken with it, but it ended up being fabulous and I love it now that it is home with me. If you ever get the chance to take a class with Tim run, don't walk, to sign up!
CIAO for today!!!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Moments that take our breath away...

I mentioned awhile back that I was participating in my first-ever Valentine Swap. This one was hosted by Dolly and there were around 100 participants. The day I received the name of my swap partner I immediately wrote her an introductory note and we had a connection that seemed surreal from the get-go. I wrote about her, her name is Monica and she is not only an amazing artist, but a wonderful, warm woman as well. I knew very early in our correspondence that she would be a special person in my life for a long time to come. One of the cool parts of getting Monica for a partner is that she lives in Italy. I was so excited in anticipation of her package to arrive from Italy. Well, it arrived and all I can say is that anything I could have imagined, having seen her beautiful blog, could not have prepared me for the awe-inspiring gifts she sent. Most of the photos I am posting here were taken by Monica herself. As you have seen, I am still a work-in-progress when it comes to photography and she was kind enough to allow me to use her photos.

This is, bar none, the most beautifully wrapped package I have ever seen. Monica lovingly created a patchwork of many lovely fabric pieces. Then she topped it with the most gorgeous pink lace, rusty skeleton keys, ribbons and bows and a fabulous huge ribbon rose. Can you see the darling little tag she made? This would have been gift enough, as I was absolutely stunned at the beauty of the packaging.
Once the top of the box was lifted, I saw this unbelievable tote. I was tearing up at this point as I looked at the perfection that shows in everything Monica creates. This picture cannot possibly show all the perfect stitching, the luxurious creme colored satin inner lining, the exceptional beauty of the vintage postcard she lovingly transferred to fabric, or the little cluster of vintage buttons and lace. It is exquisite! It is hanging on the wall in my bedroom where I can admire anytime I am there. This is a photo I took (can you tell). It shows a little bit of the detailing. Isn't it just something????Every layer of the box brought another delight for the eyes and soul. The photos shown are very beautiful, but cannot possibly show the love and care that Monica put into each item.

A lovely little rag-dolly heart.

She had no way of knowing that these chocolates are some of my faves. She definitely knows a girls' heart, does she not???

Monica tells me that she really doesn't do collage, but she did this gorgeous assemblage for me.
This little heart has special meaning for she and I. It is filled with seashells and on the back she carefully placed a map of Nantucket Island-where I was born. Turns out, in one of the many serendipitous things with our "meeting", she has always dreamed of visiting Nantucket. Isn't life amazing? My tears began to flow in earnest when I saw this. There is a sweet little saying about home inside as well.

The inside of the box she made was lined with copies of late 1800s letters from her family members. They are in Italian, French and English. And...the beautifully hand-stamped tag.

This is a photo I took of some of the items in the package. Take particular notice of the little bear. Monica is, among so many things, a wonderful watercolourist. It was a secret wish of mine that she would find it within her to paint something for the swap. The bear was such a sweet surprise. He will be promptly framed and treasured forever.

And a grouping ...

I am still absolutely overwhelmed at the sheer beauty and thoughtfulness of this gift. I not only received the most awesome gifts ever, but I feel I have made a close friend for life. I think maybe Monica tired of hearing my rantings about all things being for a reason, but meeting her has just affirmed for me that the things that happen in my life are meant to be. Monica-Thank You from the bottom of my heart for all you did for me. You are unique and wonderful woman.

ONE MORE THING----Monica recently shared with me that she will be opening an Etsy shop and I couldn't be more excited for her. Watch this blog for an announcement of her grand opening!!!!!!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

June Cleaver would be proud

"Ward, I think you're being a little hard on the Beav". Did she really say that? Ok, you all must know that I am forever working towards that ever-elusive Mother-Of-The-Year awardhttp:// This is what possessed me when I made a batch of divinity this Christmas. My son Jeremy loves the stuff. I am certain that his love of sugar stems from the fact that his Mother felt he would be healthier with NO sugar in the first 4 years of his life. Anyway, after getting the stuff to the hardball stage it quickly became apparent that my pan was lined in a permanent hardball shell! I tried everything I had ever tried and said more swear words than one should utter at Christmas, when my dear Hubby found the solution online. It is simply this: fill vessel with water and add one fabric softener sheet. That's it! The directions said to leave it overnight, but within a mere 30 minutes I had a pan that looked as good as the day I bought it. I have since used this wonder technique in several emergency cooking situations (speaks well of my cooking abilities, no?) and it has worked like a charm every time. Burnt on food? It'll do the trick. Old, gnarly cookie sheets? Yep!!!! Give it a try. And quit being so hard on the Beav.