Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Pastel demo

I was asked to do a demo of pastel painting. I thought I would do a few different techniques. I am not an expert but I have taken some classes from experts. It is another one of those practice things, the more you do the better you get. I was trying to find a cheap surface that everyone would be able to get their hands on quickly. I was reading on WC where one of the pastel artist, I think colorfix, told them to get sandpaper. I thought I should try it out first to see how it holds the pastels, erases etc before I send them to the hardware store. I tried to do a WIP and a video but the battery kept running out and so I will post the WIP here soon. I need to put it all together

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas Everyone!

I received a wonderful gift from my brother today. He has had some time to enjoy his yard and garden this year. He is a wonderfully amazing cook and decided to can a bunch of his season fruits and vegetables for gifts this year. It arrived in a beautifully wrapped red, round container, as I opened it I found a letter and all the goodies. There is Caramelized Onion and Fig preserves, Salsa, Mon Peri and cauliflower Acher. He even included some cooking uses and suggestions. We are serving the fig preserves on a pork tenderloin for our Christmas Eve dinner. My sister came in last night and the five of us are excited about spending a quiet Christmas Eve together, enjoying good food, Family and the holidays. Randy contributed to the holiday table with his beautiful roses, still trying to bloom. I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas filled with family and friends as we celebrate the greatest gift of all, Jesus Christ.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Fall Color

Where I live the trees are still holding their leaves that have now all turned to a brilliant red, if they are going to turn at all. Its cold and crisp and the wind threatens to tear them from the limbs everyday. My hubby is looking for a tree for our east side, we both want something that will color up brightly in the fall so we need to buy it in its color! Yesterday he and my mom came across this lovely maple tree called a fernleaf fullmoon maple. Oh, it is so lovely, they snuck me home two leaves. He would have bought it except for the fact that it is $200 for this small tree.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Helen's Bentley

I couldn't sleep last night and I have been itching to play with pastels on suede board more. I am going to order some Ampersand pastelbord to try also. I like the way the suede board holds the pastel and still allows for lots of layering of color. I am not able to use my really soft pastels though, not as well as the Nupastels seem to go on. I think I am going to do the WC challenge, where you take one image, simplify it and then paint it 100 different ways! I will start next year and I have the picture in mind already. Anyway, here is Helen's adorable King Charles Spaniel, Bentley! Happy Birthday, Merry Christmas
Pastel 8"x10"

Monday, December 14, 2009

My portrait for the challenge on DSFDF

I was so excited to be a part of Karen's portrait challenge. Over 180 people signed up to participate, Karen takes people and pairs them to do each others portraits. It is challenging and great fun, I love the variety of styles and faces! Here is my interpretation of the photo I received. Soft pastel 16"x 20"

Sunday, December 13, 2009

My last post for Christmas Traditions

I thought I would save our Gingerbread party for last. We actually just had the party yesterday so the photos are current. I started this holiday tradition for the kids when they were older. They would invite a friend over and each child would make their house then decorate it. That first party was such a bust since the houses wouldn't stay together so we resorted to hot glue and toothpicks in an effort to hold them together. Then when they started to try and decorate them the houses couldn't support the weight of the candy and many collapsed. That is when I decided to find a local bakery that would bake and assemble the houses, which I did. Every year since then we have ordered the houses and then we go and pick them up, each in a pretty box. All that is left to do is make the royal icing for the glue to hold on the candy. It has made for a successful party ever since. As the kids grew it became their friends and their kids, then friends with kids, or grandkids. As of 3 years ago, I turned it over to my oldest daughter, Kimberly, to have for her friends and their kids. Everyone brings two bags of candy to share, that allows for a lot of variety. It is a wonderful family project and you leave with a beautiful house for the holidays. This year Kim even provided lunch for everyone, what fun!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Christmas Traditions Day 10- Giving

The season is all about gift giving, our example is the gift of life that God provided for us. Its with this gift in mind that we are inspired to give to others. Every year our family would do some type of community service gift. For me personally, I was always trying to remind the kids that it wasn't just about them and what they wanted, it is about giving to others. This time of year can become a wonderful opportunity to teach our kids compassion and about giving to others and about being a volunteer. We have all served the homeless, hosted dinners at our church, we have gone and celebrated with the elderly, giving gifts to a senior center, the kids have gone to a local tore and picked a name off of a tree of another, less forunate child to buy a gift for.

What could be better than helping a child during the holidays. We also try to reach outside of our community, being involved with Samaritans Purses Operation Christmas child, a Christian organization that provides shoeboxes full of much needed items to children in other countries. My kids would each work on filling a shoebox for a child their own age. When you turn in the shoebox you label it for a girl or boy and what age. The kids could also include a Christmas card, written to the receiving child in hopes that a penpal relationship would form. Sometimes a return letter was received, but often they are too poor to write back or they are not able to write back.

World Vision, another Christian organization comes out with a catalog at the end of the year, you can buy animals, water wells, gardening tools etc for villages and poor families in other countries. Jennifer, Randy and I love when this catalog arrives and we can go through and pick out some things to give that we know will fill a huge need.

This year I saw another wonderful opportunity to get involved in making a difference in a childs life. It seemed to be a perfect fit for me this year. We have a friend who's daughter has been fighting the battle of Luekemia. She has been in and out of the hospital for years and as of today is cancer free! Then my fabric line was released, so how would this go together? ConKer Cancer is an organization founded by a mom who lost her son to cancer. She says that on each of his numerous trips back and forth to the hospital for treatments she would make him a new pillowcase. This small, simple gesture helped make the trip tolerable, each pillowcase signified another successful treatment. They started to provide other kids battleing cancer in the same hospital pillowcases and thus Conkerr cancer was born. I saw this on "The Quilt Show" blog and I heard she was on Martha Stewart. So this year I am making pillowcases. I was already making them for my family as gifts, now I am enlarging my family group and will be sending pillowcases to kids with cancer. I want to challenge all my quilting friends to make a difference in a childs life who is battling cancer. Such an easy thing for us to do, check out the website, all of the instructions are under "help out". Merry Christmas

Monday, December 07, 2009

Christmas Traditions- Day 9 Party time

There are so many types of parties that are going on during this time of the year. Church parties, family parties, company parties, cookie parties so if you are wanting to host a party the secret is to plan early. October is not too early to be planning and organizing all the things you might need for your successful holiday party. Last year, we had just finished our backyard and I wanted so much to throw some sort of outdoor get together. I knew that the chance of having a good turn out was probably pretty poor but I just couldn't resist. I made some invitations up and hand delivered to all the neighbors and then we called some friends. I made some Wassail punch, sangria and some easy finger foods, cheese, dips and chips. We had the outside fireplace going along with some space heaters that the neighbor loaned us. We had a great time with the people that showed up and they loved the yard. We huddled in groups around the fireplace and punch, sharing stories of the area, the people, the projects we were all involved with. Some of the neighbors hadn't met each other so it was fun to see how much all of us had in common. It was fun to talk to some of the people we see everyday but don't have time to stop to talk to. We had fun reconnecting to the people we live so close to and were invited to several parties during the year that they threw! Although planning and timing is critical to the success of your party this last minute get together was great. How does that saying go, if you want good neighbors, be a good neighbor!

Christmas Traditions Day 8- more traditions

Well, I seemed to come up with enough traditions to keep me going so far, one week down, 2 to go! That's right, Christmas is just around the corner, time to get all those last minute things done that you have been putting off. Sending cards, baking your time is running out.

My dear friend Marta has some wonderful traditions in her home. Every year she makes Tamales for her family to enjoy on Christmas eve. In 2007 I got my first lesson in Tamale making from an authentic Hispanic friend, Marta! LOL We had so much fun and I learned some of the family secrets, which I have been sworn to secrecy. Marta even took the time to make a book of recipes and family pictures which she presented to her family that Christmas. What a wonderful, personalized gift for a family. There are many places where you can just download your pictures and with pre-formatted pages its pretty easy! Check out Marta's blog and read about her family traditions. I think for a small fee you might be able to buy one of her books! LOL

Christmas Traditions Day 7- St Nicolas Day

This time of the year seems to be as much about the smells as it is about the decorations and festivities. Its during this time of year we bake all those wonderful smelling goodies, the house seems to be filled with aromas of Christmas. Cloves and Cinnamon, pine trees and fireplaces. It starts to smell like Christmas as much as it looks and feels like Christmas. I noticed that some celebrate St. Nicolas Day, where kids would put their shoes outside to be filled with goodies. This was the beginnings of our Santa Claus. I noticed on Judy Coates Perez's blog she shares one of her traditions for St. Nicolas Day, you can check it out here. She talks about the smells of the cookies and shares her recipe!

I often set out candles and actual burn them during the holidays. There is something about lit candle that is warming to the soul. The flame dancing off of the glass ornaments and silver decorations is so festive. No table should be without them. Those along with the wonderful smells of Christmas baking fills the entire.

One of the things I loved to do during the holidays was to bake for friends. I often bake breads and cookies and candies. Some years I can wrap the jelly or preserves that I prepared during the fall or summer with bows and ribbons as gifts. During the year I collect small coffee cans in which to bake the breads. Check out the pumpkin bread recipe that follows for instructions. Once the bread has been baked they are slid out of the can to cool. When the bread is cool each loaf is wrapped in plastic. The cans are washed and wrapped in Christmas paper and ribbon and the baked bread is slid back into the can to be given as a gift to a friend. Its great to make or paint some nice gift labels to be attached to the breads. The candy or cookies, are often placed in a purchased tin to keep them fresh.

I love to have a cookie jar filled with cookies for when friends stop by to have hot chocolate or tea. Its also great fun for the grand kids who also love helping in the making of the cookies. Enjoy some of my favorite recipes. These recipes are over 30 years old so their original origin is lost except for the memory of the person who I received it from.

Pumpkin Bread
Grease and flour 3 coffee cans
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
3 C sugar
1 C. oil
4 eggs
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 C pumpkin
2 tsp soda
3 1/2 C flour
1 C chopped nuts

Mix first 6 ingredients then add remaining ingredients 1 at a time, beating after each. Fill coffee cans to 3/4 full bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hours. Can be frozen Take bread out of cans and wash can and wrap with a Christmas paper. Once the bread has cooled wrap in plastic wrap and slide back into the wrapped can. Decorate with hand painted labels, Christmas bows, ribbons. I often attach the recipe to the can also.

Peanut Brittle
2 C sugar
1 C light corn syrup
1 C water
1/2 tsp salt
2 C raw Spanish peanuts
1 T butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking soda

Combine sugar, syrup, and water in heavy light, dark skillet. Cook stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves. Add salt and nuts. Cook, stirring occasionally until it reaches the hard crack stage. (294 degrees Fahrenheit) Remove from heat and add butter, vanilla, and soda stirring to blend, it will look like its foaming. Pour onto 2 buttered cookie sheets while hot and pull and spread to a thin layer on the cookie sheet about 1/4". When cool crack into small pieces and store in tins.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Christmas Traditions Day 6- Simpicity

Although many of us get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holiday some choose to keep it simple. I find that our differences is what keeps us interesting to each other. I have a friend that I haven't seen in years, we went to high school together. He has since moved to Hawaii to live and enjoys the island life there. He is an avid fisherman and I often look through his photos and dream of being there! My mom lived in Hawaii for years too and we loved visiting her!

When I asked him how they celebrated Christmas on the Island he said this:

Laurie and I don't do the big gift exchange thing at Christmas. We like to give gifts throughout the year and it takes a lot of pressure off of both of us. On Christmas morning, we go to the ocean and place flowers in the sea in memory and honor those loved ones that have passed on.Celebrating the birth of Christ ...

I love the simplicity in his answer and in his celebration, it is simply powerful! Celebrating the birth of the Lord and honoring the loved ones passed. Thank you Tom for sharing that with us.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Christmas Traditions Day 5- projects

For some reason I always decide to do a project for Christmas at Christmas time when my time is already crazy busy. But, for me, trying to do a Christmas project in July is tough, who feels Christmasy in 100 degree heat? I have to be in the mood. I want to share some projects, either mine or other peoples that I think are easy, and doable during this wonderful season. I will only list a few but if you have something you are doing this year or in years past and want me to add it send it to me and I will post it.
There is always a flurry of church activities this time of year too, plays, dinners, brunches. One year at our little church we had a Christmas womens brunch. We decided to make the center pieces that would then be available for purchase to help raise money for the next function. A group of very generous women worked on these mop angels including me. I painted faces and help make so many of these angels that year. Judy's husband cut out the dowls and the round discs of wood we used for the heads. A group of us would get together and glue, glue, glue and paint. It was such fun, and since we were already making them we made extras for us and as gifts for our moms. Every year I get out my angels (which I never quite finished) and display them. We used a commercial mop head, wooden discs for their heads and base and a dowl in between for the body. The Christmas greeniery they hold is just package toppers available at your local craft store.

CD Tree

While I was at the Xray office the other day I ran into Cheryl, from Sun City. She works there and I had noticed that they had some great Christmas decorations up. I noticed this fabric tree and asked about it. Cheryl was kind enough to share with me how she made it with CD's. She wrapped each CD with different fabrics and then gathered the fabric up closing it around the CD. She then glued the discs in a tree shape onto some foam core and added some decorations. This cute tree added alot to the sterile medical setting in which she works. Thanks Cheryl!

Last but not least, at our party the other night I noticed Diane W. had a darling Christmas plate displayed in a place of honor. It had to be an artistic creation from one of her kids. I think that these plate kits are available and I am going to see if I can find a source. How much fun would it be for me to let the grandkids create a mini-masterpiece to give to their parents. Jennifer, my 33 year old daughter made one in her brownie troop when she was around 6-7 and we still have it. The thing to remember is that sometimes, depending on the kit, any writing will be reversed.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Christmas Traditions Day 4

Picture from the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce website.

I wanted to be a bit nostalgic and share one of the traditions our family did every Christmas Season.

I was born and raised in southern California. My father was the Manager of a very high end restaurant called the Stuft Shirt. They originally had 3 restaurant locations and he ended up at the one in Newport Beach, sitting on the water. It was quite the place in its day, many movie stars would frequent the restaurant and I often would hear stories of my mom(who would hostess on the weekends)meeting John Wayne, Tom Selleck etc. I can remember at a very young age getting all dressed up, gloves, purse etc and having lunch with my mom. As older kids, every year, or many years my dad would have us all come down for dinner during the holidays to see the parade. It was a big event, which as a child I didn't realize, I just thought a bunch of people decorated their boats for fun. We would have a fabulous gourmet dinner overlooking the water and then watch the parade. I loved going, it was exciting and beautiful to see all the lights reflecting off the water, not to mention the pride I felt being with my dad. It still is going on today and I would highly recommend trying to see it if you live anywhere near Newport Beach. Here is the Link! Merry Christmas

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Christmas Traditions Day 3

When I was younger, and my kids were smaller I decided that I wanted all handmade ornaments on my tree. Our youngest daughter had fallen with a glass ornament and it had broken in her hands which required stitches. This started a tradition that would last for many years to come, my annual ornament party. I would pick 12 friends that were artsy or craftsy and invite them to the party in October. It was not only an invitation but they had to make a committment to make 12 ornaments. The party always took place the first week of December so that these new ornaments could be added to our trees for the year. I would make signs with each artist name and had a half of a shirt box for each person to place their ornaments. We would play games and visit for awhile then I would introduce each person. Some where friends from church, others from the neighborhood but each person brought a unique gift with them. Each artist then got up and explained their ornament and shared how they made them. It was great get the story behind each ornament. I would like to share one of mine....

At that time my brother had a goose, she would lay one egg a day. I decided that I would paint goose eggs for my ornament exchange. They would try and collect them and save them for me but sometimes I would have to go in and wrestle the goose for the eggs myself. Geese are not very nice birds actually, in fact they are mean. But I guess I was stealing her children! I can remember spending many days blowing and cleaning eggs before I could ever paint them. Once painted they were sealed with a shiny sealer and then metal decorative pieces were glued on to cover the holes and provide a place to add the hook. Signed and dated, I still have two that I did after all these years, I think the dates on mine are 1984, carefully packed away each year.

When that was complete each women got a small box and we would make our way around the table, taking one of each of the twelve ornaments, we now were leaving with 12 new ornaments for our tree. It was a great party, filled with friends, food and fun. A perfect way to start the month of feastivities. It was amazing how quickly I aquired many ornaments, enough to fill my tree. I always had the extra ornaments that the kids made too, the ten ton cookie ornament with the paper clip stuck out of his head as a hanger. The cheerios glued together ornaments and pasta too. One year the kids made these lovely ice cream cone ornaments. They used satin ornaments and glued them onto a ice cream cone. They were amazingly simple yet so cute, I packed them carefully and stored in the attic. Next year I pulled the ornaments down and as we unwrapped those ice cream cone ornaments all that was left was a satin ball, the mice had eaten each and every cone off, all that remained was a line of glue around a satin ornament! I will try and gather some photos of the ornaments to add to this post. The picture is one of my pastel Christmas cards

Other similar ideas would be a cookie exchange, an ATC exchange if you know 12 local artists.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Christmas Traditions Day 2

The truth be told, ok I am confessing here, I was inspired to do this daily traditions postings after visiting a special persons blog. She is such an amazingly talented person and although we have not met, although I did try, she inspires me with her amazing art and wonderful recipes that are perfectly displayed on her blogs. Yes I said blogs, she has a art blog and a food blog. I don't know how she finds time to cook the way she does and paint but she not only manages it but she excels in both. Her blog is never boring or dull but full of entertaining musings and insights that keep you begging for more. Picture from My French Kitchen

Thank you Ronell for being my inspiration once again. Check out Ronell's French Kitchen blog for a wonderful Christmas tradition that her family does on Dec. 1. I think it sounds wonderful, I may have to add it to ours. I would love for her to come during the holidays and fix me some of her wonderful treats like that picture of white chocolate panacotta and dark chocolate mousse. In the US we need to use a conversion table to make the recipes but it is well worth it. For an added treat check out Ronell's Art blog called Africantapestry for her wonderful sketches of her beloved France. While Randy and I were in Paris this year we did try to visit but the timing didn't work out and we missed each other. We are determined to try again!! I look forward to spending some painting time with her as she creates her magic.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

December Traditions

This month I thought it would be fun to share Christmas/holiday traditions that we all have during this time of year. I will be sharing some of our families traditions and I will be sharing other peoples traditions with links to their blogs so you can share the season with other people around the world. If you have anything special please let me know so I can post it and share a link to your blog. I will also be posting ideas and projects.

Every year I like to paint my cards, I paint one painting and then send it out to have cards made. It is a way to personalize the holidays for me and I get to share my artworks with family and friends. I start early, usually October so I have time to get them printed.

In the USA it feels as if Christmas has started to encroach on all the other holidays, I even saw decorations for sale at the end of summer! I know its all about moving the merchandise and not about the meaning of Christmas. So my family decorates for fall, pumpkins and leaves, gourds and sunflowers. We don't allow ourselves to decorate for Christmas until we have finished with the Thanksgiving celebration, remembering the importance and being thankful is the best place to start the whole Christmas celebration.
We usually start to decorate the weekend after Thanksgiving. Filling the house with decorations and a tree. I usually decorate outside too, our yard has a outdoor fireplace and room that is lovely during the holidays.
We fill the fireplace mantles with bows of greeniery and lights. Hang stockings and I love to set up my villages low enough that the grandkids can come in and see them. I have a ice skating rink in the village that has skaters that dance around thanks to a magnetic turning motor underneath. But the kids think they are skating. The fireplaces all have fires and the house is full of Christmas music. I love this time of the year, when all the popular singers are singing Christian music!
So here we go into December, I hope you will check in often to see what new things I have found to share. Send me your links or traditions so we can all share together.

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