Thursday, February 28, 2019

Practicing Watercolor Techniques

Painting practice is fun but uses up lots of paint, watercolor paper, and time. Here's what I've been up to.
Using salt ...
 ... gives this effect.
Crumpling plastic wrap on wet paint ...
 ... gives this effect:
 I also practiced  the "elegant flowers" painting over and over in various colors:

 These are simple and quick, but you must be very careful with the paint, and know when to stop.
Here's the simple paint application:
 A few buds and a little thin black ink finishes it:
 It's a little like cutting hair; one must stop snipping before it's too late.
Another use of salt on wet paint:
 Gives this speckly effect:
 I did a green page with the plastic wrap, and it was so pretty. Then I added blue and purple paint for flowers. Then I added ink. This is a good example of how ugly something can become with too much. Ugh. Into the trash can it went! Lesson learned.
 And one more, with the plastic wrap green background:

I've painted 40 cards and sold 17, which is exciting. Adam is in the process of getting them on Ebay, so I may sell more on there. If you'd like to buy them first from me (for less), let me know. They are inexpensive to ship, thankfully. And if there's a certain type you prefer and would like more of, I can do that also. That's it for watercolors today - thanks for lasting through all that!

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Catch-Up Time

I've been home in North Carolina for five days, and I still feel like I'm catching up from my time away with my mother. Here are a few more pics from last Friday. My brother, sister-in-law, and a friend invited me to go on a brisk walk along the river trail in Renick, WVa. Only patches of snow remained, and it wasn't cold.

 A large tree had fallen in the path. They continued with their exercise, but I took this as my sign to rest a bit and turn back for a slow stroll toward the car.
 Here's a quick video of the spot:

Another brother came Friday night with his family for dinner. We're not the houseful that we used to be before so many of the children went off to school.
 The delight of the week for all of us was surely having my niece Kayren there. She's below, smiling in the middle -- what a lovely girl! We had interesting conversations together. 
 She didn't want me to take a close-up, I think, so I got a photo of her hair. Kayren has the most gorgeous, curly, thick hair.
 My nephew is among the younger of the crowd of 25+ cousins in my extended family. Anne enjoyed playing Battleship with him, but I think he was missing his cousins.
 Anne sets a lovely table always. February flowers:
 And she makes a fabulous blueberry pie.

 The drive home was very long, and in rain the whole way. I left at 4:30 a.m. and stopped often to check GPS/Google Maps. I was quite glad to pull into my own driveway and find very friendly faces like this one:

See that rope? She's saying, "Play rope, please. Rope says, 'I love you.'"

More in the next post of the watercolor cards I'm still doing -- so if you are mightily tired of seeing them, that's a hint to avoid the next post, haha. 

We've had two fairly warm, dry days and have worked hard in the garden. I have onions and peas up, and basil seeds started in the greenhouse. Spring is coming!

Friday, February 22, 2019

More Watercoloring Adventures

Hi, dears. At the risk of boring you with endless watercolors, here are a few more. I looked online for some pictures of CeeCee's Creation's work to use as a guide, and found a couple of pictures here at this site. So without further ado ...
 I like the simplicity of these. They were also done on dry paper instead of wet, although the paint itself is pretty runny. It starts with this:
 And then you add a few lines of slim black ink:
 Looking at CeeCee's work on that website is primarily useful for understanding the shape of the flowers - how to shape the paint. After that, it's just imagination. Here's another:
 I truly love how this:
... becomes this disorderly mess:
... and then becomes this:
 And then this:
It's not great art, but it's just a little magical. I'm still enjoying it, which is the point, I guess -- and that others enjoy it too.

So there are today's four little pieces. When I get back home I'll mount them on cards for sale. And I do think I might prefer this dry-paper watercoloring. Something to think about.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Paint, Yarn, and Conversation

The sun came out. The snow melted. Mother and I have been comfy in her old house in front of the fire. I've been knitting and painting.
 Mother wanted a picture in which Bonnie's ears are out:
 Baby kimono:
 I added a blue accent around the whole neck edge and around the cuffs.
 More watercolor cards!

I'm not sure all of them are quite finished. I'll paint again tomorrow and ask myself then. I've had a second order for cards, which is so exciting and encouraging. If you'd like to buy some, please do let me know.

My lovely niece made supper for us today, a roast and veggie bake plus homemade dinner rolls. It was delicious. More family arrives tomorrow, with a big dinner tomorrow night. Then I'll leave the mountains quite early Saturday, and get back to my dear hubby, puppy dogs, and chickens who miss me so much. Well, not so sure about the chickens.
One more little thing is on my brain. Have you blog friends seen any memes like this on Facebook or elsewhere?
Image result for meme: get rid of the toxic people in your life
There are many variations of this idea. Basically we're encouraged to evaluate all the people in our lives, decide if they make us happy or contribute to our well-being, and if they don't then they must be removed for our own welfare.

Yes, there are some toxic people. There are some dangerous people. But no, most people aren't that way. I'm a little worried about this advice, about feeling good about cutting people off because we think we've correctly evaluated them as not contributing to our happiness, our sense of self-worth. It reminds me of that Marie Kondo method, except applied to friends. Take a friend out of your friend closet. Hold him up and ask yourself if he sparks joy in you. If he doesn't, on the dust heap he goes.

This harks back to the previous post and shows why this is a topic that I'm conflicted about. Do we have people in our lives who cause us pain? Treat us cruelly? Are unfair, bullying, rude, unkind? Do they all deserve to be kicked to the curb? 

How does that reconcile with "I am my brother's keeper"? Even when my brother is difficult, annoying, selfish, hurtful -- how many criterion can I come up with that will allow me to be off the hook and claim, "I'm not my brother's keeper when he's like this." 

I'm wrestling with this topic because it seems from social media that we're being fed this idea that all relationships revolve around personal happiness. Commitment in the face of troubles and flaws in the other person isn't valued. This worries me. At the same time, it's important to recognize truly dangerous people who put yourself or your family at risk. 

What do you think? Have you noticed this trend in culture lately? Do you tend to lean one way or the other? 

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Holding On, Letting Go

Whether it's the trend of tiny-house living, selling all extraneous stuff on Facebook Marketplace, or simply rejecting their grandparents' or parents' oak furniture and wedding china, young adults believe in simplifying life. They reject hoarding or collecting of anything -- those hobbies are frowned upon. This is the age of Marie Kondo. It's not just a matter of saving money or having a smaller carbon footprint. Letting go of things not only de-clutters your house; it also de-stresses your mind and soul. So they say.
Image result for getting rid of junk
 For young adults who struggle with overwhelming anxiety, getting rid of all the 'junk' in life will help de-stress them. Never acquiring it in the first place? Even better.

I like this idea of getting rid of possessions, and I think I'm at an age to do that. Will Adam and I ever sell it all and move into a camper trailer? Probably not. But we can get rid of stuff. I'm hoping this cleaning-out tendency will have a snowball effect and my house will begin to slim down.
Image result for vintage camper trailer

But does this concept transfer to other aspects of our lives? Are there things besides possessions that we need to stop holding onto and begin letting go of? How are the young adults doing in this regard? Have we lost the skill of letting go?

Is there pressure to keep all our skills we acquire in life? To use every degree, every piece of education, every career step? It was liberating to me recently to accept that I once was a high school teacher, but I'm done with that and won't do it again. That I'm done with homeschooling and won't do that again. Will I be able to let go of crocheting, soap-making, gardening, playing the piano, singing? Or am I under pressure (from myself or from others) to never let go of any of these "skills" that I've acquired? Is it okay to do something for a while and then let it go? And if we simplified our inner lives in the same say that we do our homes, would it bring more peace?
Image result for too many friends on facebook

We could ask the same of relationships. Before social media, it was normal to have friendships that lasted for a month, a year, or a decade, but then quietly ended without distress on either side. With the arrival of social media, there's great pressure to never lose an acquaintance, to keep a tie to them just in case you need it -- why? Is it meeting our emotional needs to keep in touch with 5000 old friends, or is it causing us more stress?

Can I let go of people, of abilities, of possessions? Are there other areas of life that need letting go? What about beliefs or preferences? And I willing to change my mind and relinquish old ideas? 

Simplification for its own sake could be a mistake, but simplification for the sake of peace is valuable, if it actually works. What do you think? Have we lost the freeing ability to move on in life from the thousands of little ties that bind us ... or should welcome those ties that bind? I'm not sure how I feel about all this. I do think I'm at a stage in life when all the excesses are weighing me down, discouraging me, and preventing me from moving into a happier future. I want to learn to let go, take a deep breath, and say, "Ah! That feels better!" 

I'm wondering if this is just me or if anybody else has thoughts on this --
Above, a mountain of trash after a hurricane-damaged 2-story home was bulldozed after Florence, including all its contents. Do we just keep houses to store all our stuff?

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Before the Storm

I'm in West Virginia visiting family this week. Sometime tonight a snow and ice storm will roll in.
I'm still knitting on the kimono for Little Baby Boy. It's gray, but I may thread a little line of blue around the neckline to give it a pop of color.
It's been fun visiting Bonnie too, my mother's Corgi.
She is so expressive and affectionate. My mother is so, so thankful for her companionship.
On Sunday I ate a yummy new nibble that I want to share with you: cheesy pinwheels.

You start with the pop-open crescent rolls from the grocery store. Take two adjoining triangles of dough and gently pinch them together along the diagonal to form a rectangle of dough. Smear softened cream cheese on it, then crumble cooked sausage, and lastly sprinkle grated cheddar cheese. None of it should be thick. Roll the dough up and pinch to seal the edge and ends. Cut in discs, place on a baking sheet and bake at 375 until dough is lightly gold and cheese melts.

What have I done since being on the windy hilltop along the narrow country road, in the 120-year-old house? My niece is here for an extended visit, which is a true delight to everyone. Last night we had a nice family dinner (well, 6 of us) around Mother's table. Today Mother and I went out for lunch with my sister-in-law, Anne. Now that we have no children in tow, and we had no work to dash off to, we were able to sit in our booth for an hour or so and just talk. It was so lovely and relaxing. There are some things you never get around to talking about unless you have luxurious time, extra time. Topics that can't be rushed or crammed into a few minutes. 
Tonight Mother and I ate leftovers and watched an episode of Foyle's War

What's Adam doing in my absence, you ask? He's radically deep-cleaning and painting the back porch.
Our washing machine died at last, despite all his repair efforts. So he hunted and compared online, and we decided to buy a Japanese mini-washer. I'll show you more when I see it. It takes smaller loads (which is okay by me; there's only 2 of us), spins the clothes almost dry, and takes up less space. Adam will rearrange the appliances on the porch and we'll have lots more space. Not to mention how much CLEANER it is already! Hooray for wonderful, hard-working husbands!

That's all for now ... Hopefully I'll have snow pictures for you tomorrow!