Friday, December 31, 2010

Can this year be over already?

Up and out early this morning to search for the perfect blip foto  (click on the blipfoto widget in the righthand column) for this last day of the year.  Always have a stash of stale bread (mostly bread crusts the grandkids simply won't eat...) so took that stash along.  I was delighted by the magnificent Wood Stork who appeared.  He disdained the taste of the bread after one tiny peck, but continued to linger close by and 'pose' for a few photos while he fished for a breakfast more to his liking.  These were taken looking down from the second floor balcony just outside my apartment.  He's a beauty!  As is the one Glossy Ibis.....  As always, click on a photo to get a larger view.



Love the texture of these feathers highlighted by a rising sun!

Please don't miss the lovely coppery sheen on my wing......

Thursday, December 30, 2010

just NOT enough time!!!

Between creating art, blogging about it, reading your comments plus reading the arty blogs of the folks I'm following and now....Blipfoto (boy, can you ever get wonderfully lost in that space!!!) The days just fly by.   I've always considered myself to be a reader, often zipping through a novel in little more than a day.  This is the first time since I learned to read as a kid, that books have taken a back seat to other interests.

Grandkids are always high on my list, and we had a Nana afternoon and evening - made some cookies...
Had hot dogs and mac-n-cheese for supper and watched a silly old Disney flick, "The Ugly Dachshund" with Suzanne Pleshette and Dean Jones.  The dogs are so cute! Some pretty crazy scenes of the pups chasing around and getting into major mischief.
Anyway, I'm ready for the end/beginning of a year.  Our arbitrary beginnings and endings related to the calendar often have little to do with our own rhythms, beginning new projects, or putting aside something we have loved in the past.  The calendar does serve as a reminder, however, that nothing lasts forever, and that fresh adventures lie just down the road!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Altered book - day 7

This project has certainly taken a back seat these past few busy holiday weeks, but here's an entry for today.  Whether I will continue this project remains very much up-in-the-air.  The book itself isn't as ideal for altering as I had first thought; also, without a theme of sorts, it seems too scattered.  On a plus side, however, I am discovering what I do and don't like to create - colors, techniques, styles.  The book is a way to experiment without much commitment.  On the other hand.....I feel better when I create a real something (bookmark, card, ATC or tangle) instead of just trying to make something that fits the idea of this altered book.  Will see how it goes - am doing a new swap from Creative Swaps, (see photos below also), a weekly Zentangle© challenge and a calendar challenge, plus working, working, working on the Hoffmann Challenge quilt!
Day 7 Text (click to enlarge)
Day 7 Art (click to enlarge)

Here are the four vintage notecards I've made for Lenna's swap (see link above) using some of the images that Lenna sent to be downloaded by participants.  Vintage just isn't my style, not in quilts, clothing or interior decorating, but there is a nostalgic softness to these cards which appeals to me in spite of myself!  If I have time, I may make another set in the 50's/60's style - bright colors, simpler shapes, more angles - more my style.......

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Blipfoto newbie

Well, what's (almost, excluding the obvious) the most fun you can have on a cold winter day?  Creating a blipfoto journal!  See it here (blipfoto home).  You can see MY journal at Life Naturally.  Will be adding a quick access gadget soon as the tech work is done by my computer-whiz friend, Lenna.  Will the wonders of the internet never cease??

Heard an interesting NPR story yesterday about the advances in technology just since 2000.  Several young people were interviewed - 20-somethings who were just 10+ in 2000.  Young people who have nooooo memory of life before tiny cell phones, life when AOL was king, and who remembers carbon paper???  Haven't we just leaped with gusto into this new-ish century of ours?

This said, I do believe adamantly that technology is far from the answer to everything.  We are very much removed from our biologic roots and our connection to the earth and it's many wonders.  Who knows how to bake a loaf of bread, milk a cow, till a field, grow some green beans - many of us just have no clue, and would be quite helpless without the packaged goods in our super markets, ready-made clothing, and no electricity.  We can kid around about or scoff at old fashioned homemaking/farming skills, but as 2011 approaches, let us all hope against hope that we can continue to enjoy these pursuits as voluntary enthusiasts, and not because the world as we know it has fallen apart and we must learn them in a hurry or perish.  I'm a boomer with my feet in two centuries, fortunate to see the best of both worlds past and future.  Where are you?

Zentangle Challenge

Can't resist a challenge!  See this BLOG for information about a weekly challenge if you are 'into' Zentangle!  Snow and cold tend to keep a body inside more than usual so what better way to while away a couple of hours than creating art?

Please click to enlarge

Monday, December 27, 2010

Brrrrrrr! Winter is NOW!


Looking at weather news from other places, I know Florida must seem warm and wonderful to some of you, but for those of us who are natives, this cold snap is miserable.  And the wind!!!  So unlike our usual semi-tropical haven.  Another recent chill turned many leaves to red...... a gorgeous bonus this far south!


With two very active grandchildren and a slew of family pets running around, Christmas was fairly hilarious.  I'm so fortunate to live close to my wonderful family and all their excitement!!  

Calvin and Reggie taking a break...

"Princes" Ruby posing (and DD's toes)

How long do I have to wear this silly bow?

D S-I-L with his Storm Trooper alarm clock.
Received a generous gift certificate from my DD - see toes in photo above ;-) - for our local art supply shop, so am heading out soon to spend it!  Will bundle up and brave the weather.  Lumiere paint?  A couple of new stamps? A new Moleskine?    Hmmmmmmm.......

  

Friday, December 24, 2010

12 Gifts of a Florida Christmas...lakeside style!

Christmas Eve Sunrise










On the first day of Christmas my true love showed to me
    -a Kingfisher in an oak tree.
On the second day of Christmas my true love showed to me
    -two Green-backed Herons, and.... etc.
On the third day of Christmas my true love showed to me
    -three Glossy ibis, two..... etc.
On the fourth day of Christmas my true love showed to me
    -four basking turtles, three.... etc.
On the fifth day of Christmas my true love showed to me
    -five Great Blue Herons, four.... etc.
On the sixth day of Christmas my true love showed to me
    -six Anhingas swimming, five.... etc.
On the seventh day of Christmas my true love showed to me
     -seven Osprey's hunting, six.... etc.
On the eighth day of Christmas my true love showed to me
    -eight Cormorants diving, seven.... etc.
On the ninth day of Christmas my true love showed to me
    -nine Flamingoes fishing, eight.... etc.
On the tenth day of Christmas my true love showed to me
    -ten Fish Crows calling, nine.... etc.
On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love showed to me
    -eleven Mallards paddling, ten.... etc
On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love showed to me
    -twelve Wood Storks wading, eleven.... etc.
My Norfolk Island Pine drooping under the weight of the ornaments!!

Merry Christmas to ALL!! And Best Wishes for everything wonderful in 2011.....

~Susan





Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Adorable Santa

So simple, but soooo effective!  My friend, Lois, brought this cute ATC along with a gorgeous origami ornament she made (this is one clever gal!) for our Wednesday sewing get-together with a third friend, Audrey.  We so enjoy our time together, though we don't always sew..... Yesterday, Audrey addressed Christmas cards, I wrapped gifts, and Lois told us more about a recent trip she had taken.  We  practically inhaled the Yule Log cake, and had a nice mug of hot tea to go with.....chatting all the while!

Santa and his frosty blue background glitters and has two tiny seed beads for his eyes.






This beauty is a pyramid, but with a cone-shaped instead of a flat base.  Lois uses the most beautiful origami papers to make these stunning ornaments

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

a little philosophy and sometimes a food blog ;-)

This first photo is of the rising moon last evening - the moon that would become a rare full moon on the day of the Winter Solstice, and even more rare, a moon which would soon be in total eclipse.  Went outside at about 3:20 AM 12/21 to see the shadow of our Earth on the surface of the moon.  The air was winter crisp and dry, the sky black, the stars (and Jupiter) twinkling.  Could see my breath, and heard an owl hooting.  A time of cosmic mystery and magic - explained in some ways perhaps by modern science, but the secret thrill can't be so glibly parsed.  Sometimes an accurate description of a fact doesn't really explain it on an inner and personal level.


To celebrate the Winter Solstice, I have of late been making a Buche de Noel, or Yule log cake.  (See photos which follow) It is a chocolate confection composed of sponge cake rolled around chocolate whipped cream and iced with a chocolate buttercream.  This year's meringue 'mushrooms' weren't quite as pretty as they sometimes turn out, but they taste just as yummy as ever!  The dessert is quite a bit of work and involves many bowls, pans, beaters, sticky counter tops and probably uses more electrical energy than is green, but making this cake connects me in yet another way to the mystery of the seasonal patterns, and to the ancients who must have awaited the return of longer days with great relief.  Lacking a fireplace in which to burn a real Yule log, making the cake serves as a reminder to appreciate each season of the year as it passes, and also to celebrate each season of my life - past, present and future.


Wishing all who visit here a joyful holiday and Blessings in 2011.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

inside day....

Too windy and damp to be out unless necessary, and since I have plenty of projects (and some housework - I simply MUST run the vacuum!!!) to keep me occupied, I'm enjoying the peace and quiet of staying home today.

The house smells yummy because I put a nice pot roast on to cook.....seldom eat such a heavy meal, but the season and weather call for it.

Took a photo of a little holiday tablescape I have done for my dining table ------

And here's a photo of a stamp I've just finished carving (waiting for the roast to get totally tender...)


And these next two photos are yesterday and today's ATC projects.  You'll see how the new fish stamp looks.  The beaded ATC is my impression of the wildflower fields I saw in the Hill Country part of Texas this past Spring - the Bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrush bloom with generous abandon - masses of color splashed with sunshine in undulating waves across the pastures and along every roadside.  The ATC's are stamped and painted on Kelli Perkins' cloth paper.  I'm not sure yet if I like this surface, but it is versatile.....

As always, click on photos for a larger view.



Whenever I think of Texas, I think of stars, so had to put this glimmery little cobalt blue star bead up in the sky.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Warm again.....

After the frigid temps of earlier in the week, yesterday and today have been blissfully warm, with ample sun and no wind to speak of.  On a long beach walk yesterday I picked up the items in the photo which follows.  It has been my experience through 60+ years of shore walks to note that different days produce different "runs" of one sort or another of fauna.  One might go for weeks seeing not one sea pen, but yesterday the beach was littered with them.  Likewise, there was a substantial number of living Venus Clams with their clam bodies inside (these are a lovely salmon pink, by-the-way).  I was also fortunate to pick up two pieces of coral, which isn't usual on my Gulf beach.  I also saw a very long Parchment Tube Worm  (of course, I didn't have my camera, so see the photo http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_RY1oSE6YY7M/TH9FF4_jJyI/AAAAAAAATug/jR2ZqToYDPk/s1600/DSCN2215.JPG   

Going clockwise (in my photo below), starting with the large pointed shell at the bottom left this is what I picked up:

1.   Half Naked Pen Shell - this one is a whole specimen with wonderful barnacles on both halves.

going up,

2.  Two more pen shells - one with it's pearly nacre glowing, and another smaller one with both halves intact.  Pen shells are incredibly thin (and are translucent) and are often found only as broken fragments.

3.  The feather is a glossy gray and might be from a sea gull.

Click on photo for a larger view.....


4. Just above it, and resting on the feather are two of the zillions of spiral fragments I am fascinated by.  If you came to my house, you would see these spiral fragments by the basket- and bowl-ful.  The colors are always so varied depending on the species of critter they are, the degree of damage done by sun, sand and sea.  Why these spiral intrigue me so I cannot say.

5.  At the tip of the feather is a hollow bone.  The book I use to identify beach finds, Florida's Living Beaches, says that this has a high probability of being a pigs knuckle.  They are used as bait in crab traps.  Since this bone is hollow, however, I wonder ........

6.  The two tube-like fragments are pieces of coral - the smaller piece is definitely Tube
coral - the other piece is so worn that this amateur can't classify it accurately.

7.  The little brown nub is an Australian Pine cone.  Australian Pines are a non-native species which were planted in the early to mid-20th Century as windbreaks all over Florida.  They are considered an invasive species and some folks would like to see every one cut down.  They really don't invade much, however (certainly nothing like Kudzu!!), and are useful  as windbreaks and to provide some shade when the sun is low in the sky.

Should have laid a ruler down so as to give an indication of size, but the little still-life is about 8 inches square.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

post office reactions

Never made it to the PO yesterday(I was a willing victim of Sloth!), but when I went this morning, the USPS staff behind the counter loved the envelopes I'd made (see yesterday's post please).  They shared them with the folks waiting in line (which extended their wait time, of course, but nobody seemed to mind!).  Felt like a celeb for about fourteen seconds!!!  Don't you just love it when people ask, "You really made this yourself?"  I'll admit it, creating little snippets of beauty for others to enjoy is a kind of high unlike any other.  Well cooked meals, a lovely bit of landscaping made by the sweat of one's brow, or the perfect home made pie, cause the same kind of thrill (for me, anyway.)  Not huge or expensive pleasures, but so real, so real.....

Monday, December 13, 2010

mail art swap

My new friend, Lenna Andrews, http://creativeswaps.blogspot.com has just finished the nuts-and bolts part of mailing out to each of the participants the envelopes that were created for the mail art swap.  The three I received the day before yesterday came from The Netherlands, Scotland and South Carolina.   It was soooo exciting to see the art that others had done, plus, two of the swapped envelopes had an extra treat inside  - stamped gift tags in a lovely pale blue, and a gorgeous mixed media collage postcard.  This swap was my first, and it is an extremely gratifying way to share one's art.  It is very windy and chilly here ( not typical Florida weather, even for December) so I've spent the day creating thank you notes and envelopes to send to the artists who made the envelopes I received.

Don't know what other swaps are like, but Lenna is very organized and this one has been a delight.  I can liken it to ripples spreading in a pond - one little piece of art turns into not only the exchange, but connecting with other artists and sharing in their creativity and energy.  See the link to Lenna's swap blog above for news of the next swap - for sure, I will participate!!

The first photo (below) is of the three mail art pieces I received, and the second photo are my thank-you envelopes.  The notes are inside along with a tiny treat.  As soon as I hit the "publish post" button, I'm off to the PO to get them in the mail........


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Manatee viewing

Took a break from art making yesterday and had another outing with the grandkids.  We went to see the Manatees www.savethemanatee.org who gather in the warm effluent of the Apollo Beach (Florida) power station.  Despite the fog, we saw several dozen of these basking giants, and a few babies.  On the way home, a Bald Eagle swooped down out of nowhere into the field at the side of the road and clutched a critter in his talons.  He took off just a few feet from the car, then flew across the road and up into the air no more than 30 feet from us.  No one was behind us on the road in this rural part of Florida, so I was able to slow down so we could take a good look.  Amazing!!






T

Saturday, December 11, 2010

mixed media or pig's breakfast???

With all the SNOW photos on several of the blogs I follow, thought I might see if I could create a wintery scene.  This is certainly a mixed media piece - watercolor (background), stamping, paper lace, hand lettering, rub-on snowflakes, and later, I enhanced the snowman with a bit of micron pen.  The paper lace was a good idea, but didn't seem to translate well onto paper.  Something that ought to have worked, but didn't.  What I don't know, is this because of a correctible mistake I made, or was this element just a bad choice?  I do like the sparkly paper behind the doily, and the barely-there star stamps.  I keep forgetting that I am new to all this and need not be so judgmental!!  Discovering one's particular talents and style allows for experiment.....

Day 6 text

Day 6 art



Day 6 detail

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

new paints!

No work on the altered book to report, but do have two new paint boxes - one is a 10-shade MicaColor watercolor palette in "Metallic."  Included are colors such as misty lavender, spring green, macro pearl, and super russet. The paint absolutely GLOWS against either light or dark surfaces and I am hooked!!  Unfortunately, an ordinary photo just doesn't do justice to the shimmering effects produced.  The other goodie in my tool box is a panel of 7 metallic rub-ons.  These are a creamy paste product applied with a finger-tip, that adds an opaque gleam to both porous and non-porous surfaces.  Wonderful for highlights on polymer clay or art foam, and works on paper, too.  I'm crazy for clear, bright colors and mostly, I believe in SPARKLE!  Some say it is the gypsy in me.... The rage for collage and ATC's seems to be the vintage look, but when I saw these glam glimmer products, I knew I had to have them!  Eager to play, I made a few ATC's and here they are.  The little landscape was painted on paper-cloth (a la Kelli Perkins) using only the metallic watercolors plus a dab here and there of the new rub-on metallic blue.  I drew the scene using a Micron 005 pen.  The dragonfly is a piece of embossed art foam  and was buffed with both gold and green rub-on paste.  The poinsettia is a piece of a cocktail napkin used to make paper-cloth.  It's rubbed with a bit of gold and has fabric paint dots.  The aster looks a little blah here, but the blues are very vibrant and the shimmery center looks like early morning dew.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Outdoor day two...

A sleep-over with the grandkids.... and after a sumptuous pancakes-and-bacon breakfast (the heck with cholesterol!!) we headed to Emerson Point Preserve, which is the body of land we could see from the shore of The DeSoto Memorial where we were yesterday afternoon.   Highlights of this morning's trek - a Roseate Spoonbill, a snake we can't quite identify (maybe a Peninsula Ribbon snake?), three Horseshoe Crab shells of varying size, a juvenile Black Crowned Night Heron fishing, a Black and White Warbler, with spectacular views of the river, sky, and dense mangrove swamps.  The kids are intrepid walkers and notice every tiny detail of the natural world.  In their imagination, they are adventurers equal to the explorers of old.  We've made some amazing finds together, and every curve in the trail brings new delights.

Badge from yesterday