Saturday, February 29, 2020

A Few Confessions ~

After about a year of skipping from one book to the next, frustratingly unable to find a read that I could enjoy, finally I found one. I'm a little embarrassed ... but here it is:
The last time I read a Mary Stewart novel was high school. I'll defend her by noting that her style is more high-brow than I remembered. She's not sappy. She's not simple. Her style is elegant and descriptive, her vocabulary broad. This novel is packed with literary allusions, mostly to Shakepeare's The Tempest. It's just a good, adventurous story. 

A good friend purchased a painting from me, and as I promised her, I went to town (this morning) and spent some leisurely time in the painting aisles at Michael's and Hobby Lobby. Here's what I bought:
all of the loot, above

A kneaded eraser was recommended. Those are two colors I lacked.
The Bee Paper was on clearance!

I've needed a good sketching pencil, and a decent eraser.
The masking fluid -- I'm eager to try that!

I spent a lot of time in the pen section. Pen is a good accompaniment to watercolor work.

After watching that Alisa Laporte video I realized I was trying to get by with scruffy art supplies. She had excellent recommendations, so I coughed up some change and bought some small but useful items. I plan to paint more, even if it means throwing out bad paintings and often wasting good paper. The practice must be done. Speaking of which, here are the various iterations of Beau:
The photo

First attempt: he looks a little like a ferret

Second attempt: he looks a lot like a porcupine.
His chin is way too pointy.

Third attempt: not finished yet, but improved the muzzle.
Lots of shading yet to be done.

The last one is about half-finished. I'm using wet-on-dry now, and it's easier to control, but I prefer the depth of shade and color in the first one.

On the way home Adam and I stopped at our favorite local lunch dive, Aggie's.

Oh! Before I forget! I bought baby Isaac some bibs at the New Bern farmer's market. Aren't these cute? Anna says she always needs new bibs. These have terry cloth on the back:

Need another shot of some food? Adam made mile-high pancakes (they're so fluffy) for supper last night, with strawberry syrup on top:
That's it, friends! I hope you have a relaxing, no-stress weekend! Much love sent your way!

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

A Couple of Creative Days

First I'll start with Adam, who's been working on English muffins and a Kitchenaid mixer. Do you have a Kitchenaid Mixer? Aren't they wonderful? Yes! Well ... until they start to rattle and shake and ominously drip black grease into your cake batter. We got rid of a Kitchenaid mixer many years ago for these reasons and bought another one for $250. Now they're $350, I think.
Adam made a repair video for Kitchenaid mixers, to replace the grease and the gasket, so you can spend $12 on a DIY repair, instead of buying a new mixer. Here's the video, if you ever need it! Kitchenaid recommends you replace the grease every ... five years!

He also attempted English muffins from the recipe in the "Baking Bible" cookbook, but they turned out like lovely biscuits.
 Quite yummy for breakfast.
He will try again for the nooks and crannies of an English muffin.

I've been painting (again). I saw the sweetest watercolor on facebook of a dog. It was painted by Colleen Reynolds from Nevada.

Oh my goodness ... she is GOOD. She painted this wet-on-wet, which means the paper is very wet with water, and the paint is watery too. That means the paint is quite unpredictable, but look at her results!! She made a youtube video of this painting, so I watched it too, and I felt challenged and inspired.
If you enjoy watercolor, do watch it. She is amazing.

Anyway, I had a photo of Beau, and I decided, "Why not try? What's the worst that could happen? I waste a morning and a bit of paper and paint?" Well, my results are not glorious as hers, but it was good practice. Here's a few photos:
the original:
somewhere along the line 
when the paper was quite wet:
I can't tell you how hard it is to get anything useful from a painting when the paint is running everywhere! Here's the end result:

I think he looks more like a ferret than a dog. But then maybe Beau does look more like a ferret? Haha. We joke that he's more cat than dog. 
Learning how to paint is a long process (like many things), and one goes through lots of paper and paint and produces many worthless things before it's much good. But it's fulfilling even when it's mediocre. I'd like to paint a corgi like Colleen did, and give it to my mother, who loves corgis. 

I also spent about an hour today chatting with Anna on facetime and grinning at Isaac. I love facetime video - how could I survive being a Nana without it? We do that about once a week at least. It makes me so happy.

I hope your week is beginning fine. It's hard to survive the cabin fever of January and THEN February too. We all want spring, both in the garden and in our hearts, don't we? May you all feel springy today!

Sunday, February 23, 2020

If I Wait Until I Have Anything to Say ...

... I may never post at all!!
Hello, friends. Not too much happening around here. We had cold. We had snow. We are warming up again. Spring is on the way. Maybe I'll just share a bunch of pictures? Okay, sounds good!

Snow at home, across the fields, and at church - a fraction more than a dusting, and all that we'll have this year.
Adam baked babkas for the snow storm :)
I painted a bigger painting for a friend far away and mailed it to her. I painted some sailboats too.
Our congregation gathers each Sunday after worship for a quick meal. This was our table today.
Our willow dome in the pasture is coming along! The smaller sticks are starting to sprout.
Beau says hello. He is very snoozy in winter.
The bakery that opened a half mile from our house was a delightful place to visit this past week! They let you bring your own cup from home and pay for a refill - how nice! And their donuts are wonderful. I have donuts a half mile from my house ... so very dangerous!
We continue with all our weekly duties and joys and keep in touch with family far away. Two friends in Mississippi passed into heaven this week. God planned many weeks ago for us to sing "Rock of Ages" this morning at church. When I sang, "When I soar to worlds unknown ..." I choked up and started to cry, thinking of a childhood friend who did that very thing this past week. He flew into glory, freed of physical illness that had made life difficult, even though he remained cheerful and hopeful to the end. As I get older, I realize how very much I have to be thankful for. Adam and I are blessed with each other and all God has given us in life.
Have a good week, dear friends! Remember to enjoy every minute.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Keeping Busy

I say that a bit tongue-in-cheek. I'm struggling to keep busy these days. January has been hard, for some reason. I think I slipped into a bit of depression and found it difficult to motivate myself to do much except what was necessary. I also find myself unusually disinterested in my usual creative pursuits, which is worrying. But I hope as the outside world warms and brightens, so will my inner world.

My handspun yarn from all those many months/years ago has been sitting in a bag.
I stopped spinning alpaca fleece partly because I didn't know what I wanted to make with it, and I couldn't sell it. At last, I saw this cool sweater on a friend's facebook page and asked her if she'd send me a photo. She did.

I love the shape, the collar, the bulkiness, and I could see a sweater like this, made from my handspun yarn. The body of her sweater is purl stitch, while the placket is knit, and the bottom edge is ribbing. 
My yarn is not as bulky as that -- some spots are quite thin -- so I need to augment it with another complementary yarn. My yarn is rather pale pastels, so I chose a white. I was quite limited by what's in my yarn stash; what yarn do I have enough of, to make a sweater? I have 6 skeins of this:

It has a little sparkle to it, which I'm not wild for, but when I combined it with the handspun yarn, I think it looks okay.

I'll probably have to spin more yarn, which will be a good motivation to haul the spinning wheel out of the corner and learn how to spin again, haha. A sweater takes a lot of yarn. I was tired of scarves ... So Many Scarves.

In addition to daffodils, now our Japanese magnolia is blooming also!

 Monster Egg update: This morning I found an itty-bitty egg, the first egg laid by one of my new pullets. So sweet! Look at this baby, next to the Monster!
 When you have hens, you get such a delightful assortment!
 I was busy filling a good-sized watercolor card order, but I did paint this one too:
 Are you wondering what Adam's whipping up in the kitchen? This was lunch today:
All I can say is WOW. It was delicious. And if you want to learn more about baking a perfect loaf of bread, just view this:
Happy Valentine's Week to you all! Thank you for stopping by! Your visits and comments cheer a girl up :)

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Good-Bye, Fiona

 At last! Our decrepit vehicle, purchased over a decade ago, used but little, is finally gone. This housewife says, "Hooray!"
We named her Fiona back then. The only service she ever gave us was as a college car for our oldest child for about a year, but she gave us more terror on the road than relief.
Adam donated her to a Veterans organization to be sold.

 Fiona sat in our garage and was full to the brim of MICE. Oh yes. I don't know if you can see him in the photo below, but as the car sat on the flat bed of the truck, a large rat scurried around, wondering how his life was disturbed.
I thought I could hear him muttering, "Anna Maria! Anna Maria! We are discovered and interrupted!"

 My hens are laying in a haphazard way -- one egg one day, three eggs the next. A few days ago I was left the most monstrous-sized egg! It's over 3" long.

 It weighs in over 3 oz. A "jumbo" egg is 2.5 oz. What do we call this? Monster egg!
Adam baked a lovely chocolate cake for our church Valentine's supper. In the middle is chocolate ganache and raspberries. Chocolate buttercream is on top.
I'm over my bout of flu, but I still don't feel 100%. My tummy is quite easily upset after almost every meal. It didn't keep me from that chocolate cake though! I hope you all are well, friends. Thank you for stopping by!