Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Half-Empty Nest and Storm

It's been a wacky week and isn't looking too good for the week ahead!  I didn't have time to paint, or to write a blog post.  We were threatened by Isaac the tropical storm/hurricane for several days.  It finally moved further west, so we didn't see much more than rain squalls and gusty winds, fortunately.   As a precaution school was cancelled in the Tampa Bay area, and other events such as the RNC going on in Tampa were delayed a bit.  Sure sorry to see the hurricane bearing down on New Orleans and that coastline tonight...and hoping it will not be anything near the disaster that Katrina was for the people there.

This turned out to be the weekend my daughter and her boyfriend moved out of our house and into an apartment near USF.  It's been in the planning stages for several months but suddenly came together last week when they found the right place.  I shopped a lot last week to help them get some of what they need for their household.  Sunday was the big day; we were in a caravan of four cars on the way to north Tampa by 9:30 am.  Then a tire on the trailer, full of furniture and towed by a friend, began to disintegrate on the interstate near downtown Tampa, necessitating a quick exit and waiting for a new tire delivery.  Luckily it only delayed us an hour.  Wish I had a camera with me!

It's a nice little apartment and we hope they will be very happy there.  It does feel kind of sad to have one of my two kids moved away from our home, making her own home.  It's not too far away and she'll be back frequently, which will help.  

It will take awhile to get used to not having her here every day, and I know I'll miss her.  But I also know we will adjust in time.  Kids grow up and become independent, and we have to let go and trust that they will be okay.  We've been lucky to have our kids with us for so long, but we don't want to hold them back from their lives.  Our son likely won't be leaving anytime soon, so we aren't yet empty-nesters.  One step at a time....one chick at a time. 

Part of me is ready to focus on some of my own goals and needs after years of parenting being the priority in my life...but oh how I miss those years of snuggly babies, busy kids having fun, homeschooling adventures, etc.  It flies by all too quickly.  I'm so glad I got to spend so much time with them as they grew up, and they were so much fun (and still are!)  And they are such intelligent, talented, honorable, and kind young adults.  Can you tell how proud I am to be their mom?

Being a mom was my dream, even more than being an artist.  I am so lucky, because that dream came true for me, and was everything and more than I hoped for.  Recognizing this gives me hope for the dream of someday being a full time working artist too...why not? since dreams can come true!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Some Thoughts on Weddings

I've been thinking about weddings today.  No one I know is getting married, but weddings are very big business these days.  

There are multiple shows on tv about weddings. I like to watch "Say Yes to the Dress" on TLC, mostly because I love to see the dress styles, but also to watch the brides and their families interact.  Maybe it's dress envy because I never tried on dresses when I was preparing to get married in 1987.  Our budget was small and my mom was a wonderful seamstress, so it was natural for her to make my dress for me.  After she finished it, I sewed the little bit of expensive lace I could afford onto it, and pearl beading as well. I still think it's lovely, but quite out of style, of course!
Penny and Craig, 10/17/1987
I think the extravagant designer dresses on "Say Yes to the Dress" are fantastic, though the prices are mind-boggling.  Another show I watch sometimes is "My Fair Wedding," where wedding planner David Tutera produces an over-the-top theme wedding just weeks before the wedding date.  Each event is orchestrated and blinged out to the max. It's kind of unbelievable how much work can go into one wedding.

At one time I thought about having an etsy shop for weddings.  There are many such shops, related to every aspect of wedding preparations imaginable.  As an amateur ballroom dance dress maker I was drawn to the idea of making the beaded, rhinestoned sashes many brides wear currently.  I still think it would be fun, but I've got my hands full with painting!  I think the sash below is beautiful and no doubt is quite a lot of work to create.

Best Seller - LAURA - Bridal Crystal Rhinestone And Pearls Sash, Rhinestone Bridal Belt, Wedding Beaded Sash, Rhinestone Wedding Belts
Wedding Beaded Sash by luxebridalcouture.etsy.com, $175

Today I happened onto "Bridezillas" for the first time and ended up watching for several hours, fascinated in the same way most of us can't help gawking at a car wreck.  You have to wonder if the brides who agree to do the show actually realize how bad they look as they indulge in incredibly immature, selfish, and narcissistic behaviors, as the commentator makes snarky remarks throughout.  But shows like that are often set up to create drama and conflict, so you can't tell what's real and what isn't. I kind of wonder what is going on in our culture, that many people have become so determined to create a spectacle where they are the Star on Their Big Day. 

There is a sort of counterculture to this type of wedding extravaganza, however.  Some couples are choosing to create weddings that reflect their convictions on green living, for instance by choosing a vintage dress such as the one below.  Others are having entirely homemade weddings, small celebrations outdoors, and other very personal, private, low-key events.  These weddings appeal most to me, probably because they are similar to my own wedding.  (I made our church decorations and our wedding cake too!)  I think it's great that there are so many choices and everyone can have the wedding that fits them and their budget the best.

Wedding Dress 1950s
                 1950's Vintage Wedding Dress by SybilStyle.etsy.com             

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Back to School Nostalgia

I don't know about you, but this time of year makes me nostalgic about those last summer days leading up to starting school again.  I loved summers, but I also loved school.  As one of those geeky, earnest kids, I felt such excitement about the new school year and everything I would learn.  And I loved the fresh new notebooks, paper, pencils, lunchbox, thermos, shoes, and clothes my mom bought for me.  Not as good as Christmas or birthdays, but close!  Even in college I loved getting my books and supplies ready each year.
Back to School Bus Door Hanger
Back to School Door Hangar from brookesullivan.etsy.com

I was able to relive that feeling when my own kids were young and we participated in that late summer ritual of shopping for all the stuff on their school lists.  Way more than I ever needed for school, but all useful and necessary.  Even after we began homeschooling we still went out to shop for supplies at the back-to-school sales.  Now they are in college and don't need my help to shop, plus, it's all about laptops now, not paper and pencils!  (I so wish I had had a laptop for all the notes I took in my college classes!)

Old Industrial School Globe -photography print
Old Industrial School Globe photography print from captaincat.etsy.com
I was shopping at Target last week and picked up some spiral notebooks, Sharpies, and index cards.  Some supplies are still useful around the house.  I felt some sadness and yearning for days gone past, seeing the moms and kids there filling their shopping carts with all the great stuff that they will lug into classrooms next week.

Art of the Teacher - 8x8" - Teacher Gift
8x8 print from brightsidesdesigns.etsy.com

We can't go back, of course.  Just treasure the memories and look to the future.  I still love to learn, still get excited about new books and programs and classes. I still love the fresh-start feeling I get at New Year's, and at Back-to-School time.

Front Page Featured-Teacher's Pet 4 Book Collection Multi Color Pottery Barn Style Home Decor
Four book collection home decor from jaysworld.etsy.com
I don't have any school items in my etsy shop, so I've shared a few from other etsy shops for fun.  Enjoy your last days of summer!

Oh Happy Day Blue Engraved Pencil 6 pack - Great wedding favors and gifts
Oh Happy Day blue engraved pencil 6 pack from earmark.etsy.com

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Making Progress

So happy to have made some good progress in my work on the holiday baskets.  The fall themed one that I call "Pumpkin Patch" is done, and I'm about to list it in my etsy shop.  I did add a fox to one side, and a bird to the other, since my last post showing it.

 I've also almost finished a Christmas-Winter themed one this weekend, except for a few more details on the sides and interior, and varnishing it. I'm calling it "Snow Birds."

It's been fun watching the Olympics the last couple of weeks.  Amazing how human beings can push themselves to extremes to achieve a goal, isn't it?  And how some people's bodies are capable of incredible strength, flexibility, grace, precise movement, endurance, beauty, speed...though not all at the same time, generally!  (Although I personally think dancers combine them pretty well!)  

I was touched and inspired by many of the athlete's stories; were you too?  Gabby Douglas' amazing gymnastic ability, the South African man with prosthetic legs running in track events, the young Saudi woman competing in judo, the first woman of her nation in the Olympics.  Hard to believe that there are still places in this world where women are so controlled and virtually imprisoned in their homes, prohibited even from exercising.  I heard that she may face a lifetime of being shunned and criticized in her own country.  I wish her well and hope that her world will change for the better...and make progress toward freedom for her and the women of her nation and religion. 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Sewing Again

Another weekend has zoomed by.  I'm back at my sewing machine for the moment, making a new ballroom dance dress for one of the other girls coached by my daughter's coach.  Let me just say that I am not a great seamstress.  I can sew reasonably well, though, and have made quite a few dresses in the last five years for Laura.  I've had a few failures but most turned out pretty good.  Here are four photos of Laura in a few of her dresses, with her partner Dakota. 

So I was willing to make two dresses for Heather earlier this year for USADance Nationals in Baltimore, which we all went to in April.  One, the Latin dress (cha cha, rumba, etc), turned out fine.  But the other, for smooth dances (waltz, tango, foxtrot)...not so much.  She wore it but I didn't think it was flattering enough or moved well enough.  (I don't have photos of them, sorry about that.)

I planned to work on it this summer and fix it, but with my other projects to do for my etsy shop, I'm short on time.  Sometimes trying to fix something takes more time and effort (and patience) than starting anew.  I found a new pattern I thought was a good shape for the dress, and a print material I like for the skirt, and got started this weekend.

My sewing machine is a Singer I bought after we moved into our house almost 24 years ago.  I get it serviced and fixed now and then, and it's solid metal--like a boat anchor--yes, it's sturdy, not fancy.  

And what is it with sewing patterns??  Why oh why do they fold them like freaking origami!?  Getting them back into the envelope is nearly impossible.  Why are they folded in such ridiculous ways instead of simply in half over and over?  

I got the dress made but not the lining and underskirt yet.  It needs a try-on first to see how it fits her.  I wish I were better at this!  I'm hoping this one will be successful.  Every dancer wants to feel beautiful on the dance floor, and the dress can have a big impact on how they look as they move and how they feel about themselves.
We had a lovely sunset tonight, all blue and orange.

And another week begins! Hope your week is wonderful.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Fun Project to Promote my Business

I drive a '98 Mercury Mystique with about 114k miles on it. It's not very reliable, and not very pretty, but it represents "No Car Payment" to me, and so I drive it happily!  I hope to get a couple more years of payment-free driving out of it.  

My sister-in-law gave it to us a few years ago when she got a new car.  We had been calling it The Little Red Car, then shortened to LRC, for awhile, but I decided to call it Lucy, because it's shorter than saying "L-R-C", and it's a ditzy redhead ala Lucille Ball.  Sometimes she's Leaky Lucy, since after it rains I have a puddle in my driver's side floor...sometimes she's Lurchy Lucy when her tranny is out of sorts.  She may be old, creaky and cranky, but she's got character.

I also decided to decorate her.  Why not?  Don't think we'll be selling her, except maybe for scrap when we can't get another mile out of her. 

So I started shopping on etsy for vinyl decals for Lucy.  I collected several, and thought, why not make her a rolling advertisement for my etsy site?  I ordered some more decals and the last ones just arrived, from China after 4 weeks of shipping, last Friday.  I also had bumper stickers made on zazzle.com with some of my artwork. 

I spent most of Sunday putting the decals on in the garage. Hot and buggy out there (yay for Repel Lemon Eucalptus Insect Repellent!)  Take a look!

  The sun was a bit bright here, sorry, but this is the passenger side.
Here's the driver's side.  
The back is the best I think.  I paraphrased a quote to come up with the motto "Art is an Adventure of the Mind" to tie in with my blog name.  Underneath are my website urls.
And the back window has an Art Life decal, a Peace Love Rescue decal, and my zazzle bumper stickers.

I put about 30 white butterflies all over the sides and a few on the back, and then used colored Sharpies to decorate them.  I have no idea how that will hold up in the weather, but I'm sure I'll find out!  I might add more later.  

It's much more festive now, I think!  I have no idea if it will actually lead to anyone going to my sites or not, but it'll be fun to drive around.  Lucy is all dressed up and ready to hit the town.

PS...I sold another print on fineartamerica.com yesterday! This was one of the Napa Valley Vineyard, the original sold last month from my etsy.com store.  This is being on a roll, for me!