Craft Day: Results

Anticipating Spring Break is so great. We have a full work week off, plus the two weekends on either side, for an amazing 9 days. It’s not like I’m paid for time off. I work 190 days per year and I am paid 190 days per year. The educator’s salary is just stretched out evenly through the year over the intermittent breaks and over the summer, but it’s based on time worked.

But ten years ago when I went back into educating, I decided I wanted the time and not the money. Of course, money is great, but if I pursued a high salary job I’d be busier than I wanted to be and the stress levels go up also. No, my needs and wants are few, and I’m content with being able to use the time as I wish.

In the time coming up to a Break, I plan all sorts of things. “I’ll take two online classes!” I’ll read a bunch of books!” I’ll make a thousand crafts!”

Sadly, my “eyes” are bigger than my stomach and there never seems to be enough time to do all the things I’d planned. A week off is great but it’s not long enough to do everything!

As I got to Friday I realized the week was almost over, and I hadn’t broken out the crafts yet! So I dedicated Friday to “Craft Day.”

I work so hard at making things. I soooo want to make beautiful things, but I just can’t. I never could. My High School Art teacher gave me a grade of C- – out of pity, even though that grade didn’t exist, because she just couldn’t bring herself to give me a D. But I deserved it. I tried so hard, coming in early and staying late, and starting over, and over, and over. Nothing I ever made with my hands ever worked out. She took pity on me and gave me the extra tenth of a point for effort and desire.

In the 1990s I took many art classes for bookbinding at the local Museum and libraries. In 1999 I went to the Paper and Book Intensive at Haystack Mountain. I read books on paper crafts and bookbinding. Even with all the education and tutoring, my projects were clumsy and amateur. More times than not I didn’t finish as the instructor had to move on and help other students.

In the 2000-teens I try the same at home, with just as much fervor and interest and desire, but not the skill. There is a disconnect between my brain and my hand that makes creating things with hand-eye coordination well-nigh impossible for me.

But that doesn’t stop me! All this to say that I know my projects are incomplete looking and with a third grader’s skill level. I keep hoping someday I’ll get better 🙂

Here’s what I did on Friday. First, the background papers. These are papers I’d prepared, or partially prepared, by practicing some techniques, and then plan to use them as background papers in other projects.

In this one I tried using the stencil UNDER the paper, and rubbing with oil pastel crayon over it. I like the technique, but the choice of oil pastel was bad because it clumps. I should use a regular crayon, on its side, like the lady in the tutorial did.

Same technique as above but I used a lighter touch. I did this one in my Fabriano Art Journal because it is larger & taller than the Strathmore.

Then I used a raindrop stencil over the tree rubbing and used a baby wipe to do some smearing. Again, practice. I had never heard of using baby wipes before and I like the idea of using them both for the creation of a piece and the clean up afterward, lol!

I had bought an old Spanish book of some kind at a jumble sale. Keep your eyes open for all manner of ephemera at any location. Even receipts, tickets, entry pamphlets, can all be used at some point in collage. The Spanish book pages are brittle and browned at the edges. The Spanish words, and penciled-in notes someone had made in the book make the pages exotic-looking and good ephemera. This one has a stencil of clocks and gears laid over the page, with distress ink sprayed over the stencil.

Large format tree stencil, pounced using acrylic paint. I’d used a cosmetic sponge for the pouncing. I have a few pages of 12X12 papers, and I selected black because I knew the lighter color paint would make a nice contrast. I liked the berries along the edge not just for their contrasting color but I liked the idea of bare branches on the tree but fruit along the edge.

Below, Strathmore Visual Journal, two pages of collage. I tried various techniques, including layering paint for the background, rub-ons, etc. Still looks unfinished, but I give this a D+ instead of my usual F.

I like things on a smaller scale. These are art tags. I can use them as cards, or attached to gifts for a personal touch.

This is Strathmore visual journal again. The painted background is something I’d done a while back. I used this page to stencil the sun, bird, and thinking woman on top of the block squares of paint underneath.

This is a file folder card. The birds on the front are very light. This is because the paper I’d stenciled it on is cloth-like and soaks up the paint massively. Good to know. It’s why I try different techniques.

Card inside. The doily thing will hold the message I decide to write.

So that’s it! Something else I did do is clean out one more drawer in my bureau that holds stuff. BTW, the pillow bungee corded to the air conditioner is because a Carolina wren makes a nest every year under the AC in the sill. (The AC unit stays in the window all year). The thin accordion slats weren’t enough to keep Murray from trying to get through and attack the five babies that enticingly cheep, perhaps to their doom. So I thumb-tacked a piece of cardboard over it and put the pillow there to prevent Wild Kingdom Birdie Apocalypse from happening in my living room.

The bureau’s 9 drawers come in very hand in this two-room apartment with one closet! On the far right the drawers contain-

1. Junk, tools, nails
2. Stationery, office supplies
3. Extension cords, this will be cleaned out also, for the ever growing craft supplies

The middle holds

1. paper, stencils
2. art journals, cardstock
3. ephemera, partially completed projects.

The far left bank of drawers holds:

1. empty. I plan to better organize the paper I’ve got. I have a lot of paper.
2. magazines, laminating pockets, some crafting tools, sponges
3. wet- inks, paints, ink pads, mattemedium glue, brushes

So that’s it. Thanks for reading!!

Craft day

I’ve had such a busy week that I realized this afternoon that I had not even done any arts and crafts! I did a bit this PM and I decided tomorrow will be all-day, all-out crafting. Maybe in my pajamas, lol.

Here is the bit I did this afternoon, while sipping pomegranate tea from my china cup and watching Bake Off: Creme de la Creme.

Origami bookmarks, file folder card, tags
You put these bookmarks over the corner of the pages.
It won’t fall down.
A couple of tags. I really love the bird stencil.

Till tomorrow!

Dangerous weather outbreak expected tomorrow

I’ve lived here 11 years and thankfully I haven’t had too many run-ins with severe weather. No bad tornadoes and thankfully not even many severe thunderstorms. Once I hid in a closet where an EF-0 tornado went by a mile or so up the road. That was the only incident. The last few springs have been downright quiet on the storm front.

But they are predicting a very severe outbreak tomorrow all day. They’re saying thunder, strong winds, golf-to-baseball sized hail, tree and limb damage, flash floods, and long-track tornadoes. That last one does put the fear into me. I’m used to blizzards, not tornadoes. I hate the buggers.

Weather preparation includes all the above, wearing sturdy shoes and a helmet is also recommended. Charge up your electronic devices, and draw water. Stay off the roads.

If a storm approaches, go to the lowest level of the building you’re in, hopefully a study well-built one and not a mobile home. They are saying to go to a hotel or friends’ tomorrow if you live in a mobile home. If you do not have a lowest level to your home, put as many walls between you and the exterior as possible. A closet or bathroom in the most interior section of your house is the best option in that case. If you’re driving and a storm approaches, pull over ASAP and park out of traffic. Stay IN THE CAR, with your seat belt on. Put your head below the windows, and in all scenarios, protect your head and neck with a cushion, blanket, coat, and your arms. Do NOT park under an overpass. If you’re walking when a tornado hits, find the lowest spot around and lay flat, again with something over your head.

I stocked my weather radio with fresh batteries, cleared out the tub and placed large cushions and a blanket in there because it’s my tornado closet, brought in the lawn furniture and garbage can, and put the car in the garage. If you have unsecured things outside, secure them now. All there is to do now is wait and pray. They’re saying power outages likely, so if there is no essay tomorrow on The End Time, that’s why. Stay safe everyone in the South!

Enjoying the first day of Spring Break

The long awaited Spring Break is here. I went to bed last night after a very busy day at school and after school, and at home…tired, bleary, tapped out and running on vaporous reserves. I woke up this morning after 9 hours’ great sleep to a glowingly gorgeous morning of birdsong, bright sun, and beautiful flowers. Cant be better, right?

It does get even better! Read on for more.

I had to go into Athens Friday late afternoon, and I wasn’t looking forward to it. Though in my youth I drove all over the place without being fazed, as I age, my reflexes are slowing and my ‘startle-reaction’ is more sensitive. For example, people changing lanes suddenly in front of me startles me more than is used to, and the momentary fright lasts longer. I’m more skittish about cars around me. Too much sensory input while on the highway at high speed is burdensome to my brain and eyes, where it bothered me much less in my 30s.  After a long week and a very long day with the kids at school, I was exhausted and wanting to go home.

Their weekly sale included a pint of blackberries for $1.88, and tofu., s I scooped both those up.I found some GREAT deals on the markdown tables. There was a packet of two slices of chocolate frosted cake, and on the fish aisle, a little more than half a pound of smoked salmon for $3!!

Frugal shopping on the fly means that when you see tofu for sale, you get veggies for a stir fry. When you see smoked salmon, you get cream cheese.

Well, eventually, of course, I did get home. As I parked in the garage and opened my trunk to extract the groceries, a moving van pulled up. The tenants on the other side of the house had moved out a day or two ago, and it seemed that the landlord had quickly found new people to take their place. We all spoke in the driveway for a while, they are super nice. I know that since the economy had settled down after the crash of 2008, fewer houses are being foreclosed, fewer people are moving and the occupancy rates for various cities and counties are reaching maximum. In other words, people are staying put. So rents are hard to find, or so I’m told.In any case, I’m glad this family found a nice place to live.

Have you ever considered what a service to the community being a landlord is? Providing housing to people, maintaining a nice place for them to raise their kids, dealing with tenants fairly and honestly? It’s a really good thing.

At Kroger it was nuts, so many cars gridlocked getting gas and the grocery store itself, while not overcrowded, was busier that I’d seen it. Must be the Spring Break thing.

I got home, unloaded groceries, fed the cats, straightened up, watched a few videos, and went to sleep. Blessed unconsciousness, no sensory input, and perfect bodily comfort with the bed clothes and covers.

The next morning, I awoke to this. Sun! Birds! Blue Sky! Flowers! Yay!

These baby birdies are in a nest the mama had made in the windowsill of the window that has the air conditioner. Their peeps are so cute!
New neighbor’s cactus

I’ve been wondering where the male cardinals have gone. I know they’re still around, but I used to see them closer to the house, feeding on worms near my front door, even. This guy was about 150 feet away from me, halfway up a tall tree.

Pretty dogwood tree, my favorite in the whole yard. Blooming in the sun on a spring morning. Ahhh

For breakfast, I used some of the smoked salmon to make a pate that included cream cheese (softened), lemon juice and instead of capers, minced olives. I spread the salmon pate on toasted multi-grain artisan bread (another Kroger marked down item). The blackberries went on my plate of course, as did a yellow gold potato I’d roasted in the crock pot a few days ago. It sounds fancy, and it probably is, but it was done on a budget.

Today is supposed to be in the upper 70s and I plan to stand at my potter’s table and clean out my pots and refresh my outside plants that made it through the winter. In another few weeks the threat of frost will have passed and I will get some plants to put in the pots. I sure do love flowers. And birds. And warm sunny mornings. And life!

Maine Maple Sunday

The 4th Sunday in March is always Maine Maple Sunday. The sap’s a-runnin’!

Below is an article explaining Maine Maple Sunday.When you think of sugar houses and fresh maple syrup you might think, “Vermont” or New Hampshire” but Maine is right up there with production.  Since 2010, the article states, “Syrup production has more than doubled and the industry brings $48.7 million to Maine’s economy.” Plus, fresh maple syrup is yummy!

Sugar houses statewide celebrate Maine Maple Sunday all weekend

Here are a couple of pics I took some years ago when I lived in Maine. I took them with my Lomo camera.

maple sapmaple sunday

Now go eat a pancake! Or maybe a “Dutch Baby

Milan’s Leonardo statue at the Galleria

I spent a Saturday recently scanning in old travel photos. I found this one and I’d forgotten to write the caption on the back, but I knew it was Italy. After scanning and enlarging it, I saw that the top of the base was labeled Leonardo, so it was an easy matter to Google ‘Leonardo statue Italy’ and discover it’s a famous statue of Leonardo Da Vinci in Milan. Google is amazing.

The statue of Leonardo da Vinci is located in Piazza della Scala, prominently displayed in front of the international temple of bel canto. The monument offers a solemn and austere image of the scientist and at his feet are four of his pupils. The statue is made of white Carrara marble, whilst granite from Baveno was used for the base.

Ah, yes, now I remember. I’d gone to the Galleria and took this photo from the car on the way in. The Galleria is one of the world’s oldest shopping malls, built in 1867. Though Providence’s Westminster Arcade was built in 1828 and is Nationally Registered Landmark. I have a photo of that one, too, somewhere…

Notice the photo of the base, the hexagonal shape with each panel artfully carved in bronze in 3-D relief. Amazing work!

I like statues. I like granite and marble, so that stands to reason. I played around with the Leonardo statue on Pixlr-O-Matic. This is an online version of Pixlr, a free photo editing app I’d downloaded to my desktop. There are several versions of Pixlr online for free. The O-Matic automatically places several filters atop your picture. I couldn’t decide which ones I liked most so I saved several. You decide, lol. First is the original untouched, then an original version cropped to highlight just Leonardo. Then all the Pixlr ones.


The Italians are certainly impressive in their creative statue making. All over Milan, Florence, Rome, and else where are impressive fountains, statues and art of all kinds. There’s an interesting story that combines the Italians’ love of beauty with confidence in their abilities. They began re-building the cathedral in Florence in 1296. The dome that would be built atop the structure was so large, the architect had no idea how t would be built. He designed it,and the powers that be said, well, that’s going to be a few hundred years from now when we get to building the top of it, so let’s just wait a while and worry about that when we get to it.

And they did! I’m drastically collapsing the story but it’s captured both in a National Geographic article and in a good little book called Brunelleschi’s Dome by Ross King.

I love all the Italian statuary and art. I wonder if they ever imagined that photography would be invented and we’d take photos of their work and then monkey with it by adding filters and gizmos. I wonder if the ancient artists and stonemasons would be impressed and delighted, or offended and angry. Oh well, art marches on.

Birding Saturday

It’s the end of a good and busy week. On Friday night, I was at home relaxing, eating dinner of baked salmon encrusted with sun dried tomatoes and pine nuts, baked potato, Caesar salad with broccoli and radish shreds. For dessert- white cake with chocolate frosting and hibiscus tea. I know how to shop Kroger deals like a boss. Total cost, $2.50, or less than McDonald’s.

I did find a lot of marked down deals this week. In the marked down cheese fridge, I found herb encrusted brie, prosciutto wrapped mozzarella sticks,. At the fish station, there was a piece of salmon pre-made with encrusted pine nuts and sun dried tomatoes for $1.25. In produce there was lots of greens, including a Caesar salad mix and a bag of radish shreds, which I like a lot. Who knew. Radish shreds. I add them to add to salad or just eat for stand alone snacks. Also in the bread section, I scored several loaves of artisan bread for $1.29 and some dessert-y things also.

I chose the lower income job so as to have my summers off and school vacations, (time is more valuable to me than money. Therefore on my fixed and very low budget I’m content eating peanut butter sandwiches and scrambled eggs. However, it is nice to be able to sprinkle my plain meals with some gourmet tastes now and then. Kroger’s marked down items allow me to do that.

Charter Internet has finally arrived in my neighborhood. This is great because Windstream has had a monopoly for many years, being the only option here in rural Georgia. Windstream has issues, namely that they oversold and can’t keep up with their promises for fast DSL. It’s not only slow, the connection drops all the time. The situation got so bad in 2013 and 2014 that the GA  and the FCC threatened (or filed) lawsuits and Windstream had to pay in two separate settlements. The situation is still pretty bad, they have not improved their infrastructure and consistently fail to live up to promises, so another suit is looming. In this article from 2016, it’s stated

Complaints about Windstream’s slow Internet service in homes and businesses throughout Georgia’s 9th District, which encompasses all of Northeast Georgia, have prompted new complaints and a stern letter from Republican U.S. Rep. Doug Collins … The complaints have become so numerous and frequent that the Jefferson City Council in Jackson County have established a Broadband Advisory Committee to address possible alternatives.

I live on a main road inside the town center across from the school. I haven’t had it too bad and I stuck with Windstream until now because I obtained a $30.00 for life” plan for my internet service. It was a little slow but I don’t do gaming, there are no other devices on my line, and all I need it for is to write, and watch or listen to sermons and at night, tv or movies. I could live with it.

However recently it had been dropping all the time sometimes for a minute and other times for an hour. I couldn’t watch any sermons even if I put the quality at the lowest level. I really couldn’t watch my Ligonier educational theology classes, because on most of those there is no option to go lower in speed/quality. Ligonier’s Refnet and Grace to You’s Expositor radio had become impossible for me to listen to. I drew the line. After signing up for a Charter Internet and Phone plan that was actually less expensive for the first year and only $10 more than Windstream after that, I jumped.

The guy came yesterday. He was nice and the set up only took a few hours. My cable internet is slightly faster than Windstream, not a lot faster, but that is because my laptop is older and the processor can only process so fast. I knew that going in. So the next step is to save up for another laptop sometime in the next year. If you give a mouse a cookie…one change always leads to another. But for now I can watch streaming items and the connection is steady, so I’m happy.

Saturday afternoon I sat outside in the upper 60-degree sun, watching the many, many birds in my yard. I sure do love the birds, birdsong, and avian activity. If you know what this guy is, let me know. I see this species a lot but can’t find what he is. He was walking across the yard, taking a few steps, then opening his wings wide and strutting a few steps. It seemed like a courtship activity.

gray bird1gray bird preening

I believe these are Carolina wrens?

carolina wrens

This looks to me like a female cardinal. She might be pregnant. She also looks tired. I know I’m probably anthropomorphizing too much, lol.

female cardinal2

Huge flocks of crows (“a murder of crows”) sometimes roost briefly in the yard. Here is one who settled above me. I liked how the sunshine showed off his black-purple feathers. Below that, a few of the large murder of crows in the tree-

crowmurder of crows

Later today I’ll be at my wonderful church learning from a powerfully packed sermon, and then attending small groups afterward with fellowship & Bible study. Can you say “great weekend”? I hope you had a good weekend all. See you next week.