Saturday, May 31, 2008


i was tagged twice this week so i'm going to combine the two tags into one post. first, i was tagged by the charm school dropout and then by hope tree studio, both lovely ladies with lovely blogs that i enjoy reading every day. here are the rules:

1. link back to the person who tagged you (see the link above).
2. post these rules on your blog.
3. share six unimportant things about yourself.
4. tag six people at the end of your entry.

here are the six totally trivial, unimportant and somewhat weird things about me:

1. when i was young(er) i could fit my entire folded fist into my mouth. today, not so much!

2. in high school i was sent home twice for wearing skirts which were deemed too short. hey! it was the 60's and the mini skirt era. being a rebel was expected.

3. when bored i play a little word game in my head where i take words and divide them up into groups of 2, 3, 4 or so letters. for instance the word magnificence can be broken into 4 groups of 3, 3 groups of 4, 2 groups of six, etc. i have no idea how this started but in conversation i often am playing this game in my head when someone says a word with a lot of letters.

4. i have a small fear of heights and a bigger fear of drowning. the thought of flying over the ocean is quite daunting to me.

5. i love the sound of birds twittering in the morning, the sound of rain pattering in the evening and the sound of my dog presley snoring in the night.

6. i almost always have a bit of chocolate or some cookies hidden away in my art room for an "emergency".

7. the weirdest job i ever had was as a photographic negative retoucher (before the days of photoshop!!).

8. i was a single parent for 18 years and raised my two children pretty much single-handedly. if i live to be 150, win the nobel prize for literature, cure cancer or become a famous artist, none of these accomplishments could ever compare to the satisfaction of having raised two wonderful, loving human beings who are productive members of society, who give back to the world every day. they are my greatest legacy!

okay, so that was more than 6. i'm a rebel, remember?!!

here are my six tags:

auburn kat
alas my dear
laura's words
crossroads cottage
quaint handmade

the above art is my blue lagoon crane mixed media collage which hangs in my master bathroom, a peaceful reminder of nature and where i want to be on the weekends!

have a great weekend, my blog friends!!

Friday, May 30, 2008

grandma j's butterscotch pie

fred and martha johnson
kopper kettle restaurant
economy, indiana
circa 1950

i’m one of those people who likes the “idea” of cooking more than the actual work in the kitchen. maybe it’s because I grew up helping my grandma j cook. she and my grandpa ran a small restaurant called the kopper kettle. it was just a few hundred yards away from the house where i grew up so i spent a great deal of time there. they made pretty much everything from scratch – salisbury steak, ham with raisin sauce, giant tenderloins and old-fashioned ham and beans with cornbread. (think “hey, pa, what’s for dinner?” and you’ll get the picture of this small town country cooking). i pretty much started going to the kettle to hang out with grandma when i was 5 or 6. she let me stir things and taught me how to measure ingredients. eventually i went to work there as a real paying job, washing dishes, waiting tables, peeling potatoes, every odd job that i could do to help them out. they each worked 12 plus hours a day to keep that little gem of a diner going. and believe me, they packed people in after church on sundays.

one of the most popular things on the menu (and my personal favorite) was grandma’s famous homemade pie. she excelled at a flaky crust made with lard; granted it wasn’t healthy for you, but it tasted superb! she made several varieties every day such as lemon meringue, strawberry, black raspberry, apricot, coconut, sugar crème, pecan and peach. but in my opinion the most unique pie she made was butterscotch. to this day, i’ve never tasted a better butterscotch pie. so, as a tribute to my grandma j, here’s the recipe.


1 firmly packed, heaping cup of light brown sugar
2 T butter
2 T flour
2 eggs
2 cups of milk (at least 2%)
1 baked pie shell (store bought is fine, that’s how I make it)
2 T of water
handful of granulated sugar

separate 2 eggs by putting the whites into a medium mixing bowl. place the yolks into a 2 cup glass measuring cup. fill the glass measuring cup up with milk (slightly less than 2 cups) and beat the yolks into the milk with a fork. set aside.

in a medium saucepan or preferably an iron skillet, melt the 2 T of butter. add the brown sugar and cook on medium/high until the mixture begins to bubble and caramelize. the color will turn to a darker brown. take off the heat and stir in the 2 T of flour. slowly, a little bit at a time, add the milk/egg yolk mixture. immediately put back on the stove and cook on medium until the mixture thickens to a pudding-like consistency. pour into the pre-baked pie crust.

add 2 T of water to the egg whites in the medium mixing bowl. with an electric mixer, beat the egg whites on medium/high until peaks form. add a handful of sugar and beat until well mixed. use a plastic spatula to spoon the meringue onto the top of the pudding in the pie crust. make peaks on top of the pie so it looks nice. bake at 350 degrees until the top of the meringue is a nice golden brown.

let this cool for a bit before cutting so the pudding has a chance to set up. Enjoy and please let me know what you think!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

collage fun

this is a collage project one of the ladies made at my workshop on saturday. she really got outside the box by having the art hang off the sides of the canvas board. very inventive! i really love how most times i learn more from the class than i am able to teach them.

happily working!

it is amazing how quiet things can get when everyone is concentrating on their projects!

a suggestion or two on how to achieve the desired effect!

a few embellishments are added with chalk and oil pastels!

this was a very fun group and i really look forward to teaching more workshops in the fall!!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

chaos and creation

there’s madness in the art room
it’s seeping out the door
a plethora of paper
is strewn across the floor

a mass of stamping letters
is smudged with dark brown ink
the brushes are awaiting
their bath time in the sink

bits of pastel art chalk
lie jumbled in their tin
it’s been a day of chaos
creation is the sin

the shins made an appearance
eddie vedder crooned along
crosby, stills and credence
filled my heart with song

all thru the “artsy” singing
my pal was presley dear
he slept under the table
so nice to have him near

now the sun is setting
it’s almost time to rest
but wait, just one more project
this might just be the best!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

i'm featured on someone's blog

hey, i'm posting twice on my blog today so be sure to scroll down to see my "pretty packages all tied up in a bow" post below!! the very talented and lovely carina at carina's craftblog contacted me recently to ask if she could interview me for a feature on her blog. i was pleased and humbled and excited and, of course i said yes! click here to read all about it. and, be sure to check out all of carina's wonderful posts full of tips, art and wonderful crafty features.

pretty packages -- all tied up in bows!

so yesterday was my last day of non-holiday unemployment and you guessed it, i spent it in the art room. this is the custom journal my friend laura asked me to do for her sister’s birthday titled “a mother’s heart is the child’s playground”.

the inside features their mom’s hand written recipes, a very special tribute to their mom who passed away many years ago.

the “words” journal was a gift from me to laura, a writer/editor extraordinaire and a good friend. you can check out her blog here.

i attached a fancy piece of fringey string and bead as a bookmarker.

both journals are wrapped in my custom handmade wrapping paper which i make by stamping a large variety of rubber stamps with brown chalk ink all over kraft wrapping paper. i add my little tag line peace, love, joy all over it as well. a bit of fancy ribbon is tied in a pretty bow and voila! fini!

Friday, May 23, 2008

sweet moments

sweet moments in the garden
deep garnet roses bloom
birds twitter in the thicket
a poignant summer tune

sweet moments in our lives
like summer's fancy fare
may fade in our remembrance
but are always ours to share

this is my "sweet moments rose garden" mixed media collage. it is on a 14" x 14" x 1 1/2" gallery wrapped canvas. i used a wide variety of torn ephemera to cover the background -- pieces torn from an old french vocabulary book, a vintage copy of wuthering heights, vintage cookbooks and an old indiana arithmetic book from the early 1900's, among others. my neighbor across the street has a big rose bush by his mailbox which i can see out of my art room window. it is just gorgeous when the deep garnet blooms start to burst forth. today i'm going to craft a little tag featuring the above poem which i wrote to go along with this piece. i'll creatively attach it to the wire on the back to add just that extra little cuteness. i'm working on this series so i can get some placed in a gift boutique or two.

happy friday! and, as always, peace, love, joy to all!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


today i decided to shoot some photos around the house to liven up my blog. it's a beautiful day and even though it is a bit cool and windy, it was glorious to be outside in the sun! the above honeysuckle is madly blooming in the front of our house. we planted it last spring and it was pretty puny all last summer. i am so happy that it has bushed out and gotten full and tall this spring. the 7' tall by 4' wide plant is loaded with gorgeous blooms!

this very bright magenta dianthus was bouncing a happy little dance in my front flower bed. the color is just stunning!

this is the third year for these giant blue hostas. just to put this into perspective, some of the leaves on this plant are 16" long by 12" wide. they make a huge impact on my back patio!!!

another honeysuckle variety we have growing on our back fence. it is reaching for the beautiful blue sky! hopefully, it will burst into bloom soon.

my east flower bed is coming along nicely. this honeysuckle is still struggling a bit and i'm considering adding a couple of clematis vines (the kind that will bloom all summer) to the trellis to help fill it out. decisions, decisions.

i was up late last night creating this wreath on my dining room table. i stumbled onto the gorgeous ivory silk peonies at hobby lobby yesterday. as luck would have it, they were 50% off and i had to have them. i paired them up with some other silk flowers i had hidden away in the art room closet (and forgotten about). i just love the ivory glow of this wreath and the little touches of apricot, orange and green.

i decided to hang or put out several more pieces of my art today. why keep them hidden away under the table in the art room? i have a coffee theme in my kitchen so the placement of this one on my counter was a natural.

two of the collages in my poppy series brighten up my laundry room.

i arranged a few new things on the corner area in my living room. "reach for the sky" is the focal point.

my hummels are hanging out with the little blue bird in my "garden blues" collage.

time to start dinner and maybe pick out a book to read. i finished anita shreve's body surfing this morning. but, luckily, i have about a dozen new books just waiting to be enjoyed.

peace, love, joy!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

don't get excited . .. this isn't one of mine. just a photo i found on the internet and liked. it would be fun to collage but i fear the reflection would be hard to pull off in paper. the list of ideas to collage just keeps growing and growing!!

i have a new job!!! i interviewed yesterday morning, accepted the job today and will start next tuesday. so, i have a few more days of goofing off to enjoy! it will be a fun place to work and the people seem very nice. the position is right up my alley and i believe i will settle in quite nicely.

i've been reflecting on how much i've learned over the last couple of weeks since i lost my job. here's a glimpse:

for me creating art is more enjoyable when done as a past-time or hobby without pressure to sell or please others. it became a chore when i thought i HAD to do it

i need a routine

i CAN have too much reading, relaxing and lazing around

reading and creating are more enjoyable when done as a reward after a hard day of gratifying work

i still have a need to prove myself, whether it be as a mother, a grandmother, an artist, a wife or a marketing coordinator

true friends should not be taken for granted. once you don't see them everyday, you really understand how very dear they are

at 55, it is harder than ever to find shoes and pants that look great and are still comfortable enough to wear all day

it is important to trust my gut instinct and not constantly second-guess and doubt myself

i can live simply

i expect less of everyone else but me

when i look in the mirror, i want the reflection to show a strong, confident, young-at-heart woman who likes herself

i'm liking my reflection today!

peace, love, joy . . . until tomorrow!

Friday, May 16, 2008

dear heloise

dear heloise,

my hubbie called me from work today to ask that i get the roll of aluminum foil out of the kitchen cabinet. hmmmmm, i thought, what's he up to now? on my way to the kitchen (from the art room, of course) he said he and his co-workers were debating whether aluminum foil boxes had little push in tabs on the ends to keep the roll from falling out. i immediately answered no way. then as i pulled the box out of the drawer to my surprise there WERE tabs on the ends. i was stunned and laughed out loud. flashing before my eyes were all the times that the foil roll had leaped out of the box to land in the pan of lasagna, or roll across the floor or twist itself into an angry knot. when had some genius at reynolds come up with this ingenious invention? had it always been there and i was just too dense to notice? with lightning speed i grabbed the box of saran wrap and whoa! it had the little tabs as well. so, heloise, i'm writing you today to enlist your help. when, oh when, did these tabs magically appear on the boxes??!!


mystified in ohio

let the debate begin!

Thursday, May 15, 2008


ok. no sugar coating the truth today. i am struggling with lack of motivation!! this has always been a problem for me when i have too much time on my hands. i love the big list of tasks and the push to get everything done. if i'm not loaded down with things to do i just kind of wallow around in a haze of malaise. i forced myself to finish the waterlillies canvas above and it was almost painful. i just couldn't get into it and and felt frustrated, out-of-sorts and totally non-creative while working on it. i fear it shows big time! big sigh!!!

so here's the list of things i need to do:

1) contact local art galleries about placing my work (intimidating!)
2) get online and apply for jobs (boring!)
3) clean up the art room (been there, done that!)
4) spring clean the house (yuck!)
5) quit feeling sorry for myself and do something (obvious!)

and, here's the list of things i want to do:

1) have lunch with my old co-workers (ok, so we've all moved on. quit dwelling in the past!!!)
2) walk on the beach (too bad ohio is land locked)
3) eat one of those blonde brownie with ice cream and warm sauce desserts at applebee's all by myself (i usually share with my hubby!)
4) go shopping at a flea market to buy tons of new vintage ephemera (maybe this weekend!)
5) go shopping for new duds (need to get a job first!)

and finally, here's the list of things i'm going to do:

1) fix a yummy lunch with fresh fruit (good for the body!)
2) go for a long walk and sing along with kenny chesney on my ipod (good for the morale!)
3) look for a new dog on (good for presley and me to have a new friend!)
4) clear the art room of all the negative energy (good for the soul!)
5) cut myself a break and embrace this change as a good start to exciting new things (good for me!)

later, friends. i have important things to do!!!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


i'm streeeeetching and yawning and ready for a break from the art room this afternoon. i've been in here since 6:30 this morning working on this new collage (off and on). it is my take on monet's waterlillies and i'm struggling with it a bit. i'm not sure at all how it's going to turn out. i'm going to have to open up my bag of magic tricks on this one to get it to the point that i like it. maybe i'm stretching myself creatively a bit today as well. it would be sad if this one ended up in the artroom graveyard. smile!

so, i'm off to take presley for a walk in the drizzle to wake up and stretch OUR legs. then i'm going to sit and read for a bit -- jodi picoult's change of heart which is very good but not my favorite picoult book. it would be hard to pick a favorite of hers. so i'm not even going to try.

hopefully inspiration will strike while i'm away from the art room and i can return to this canvas with renewed energy and a refreshed magic wand!

peace, love, joy to all!


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

twitter, twitter

every morning as i fix my coffee i can hear the twitter, twitter of little birds on the bird feeder right outside my kitchen window. i have to stand on tippy toes and lean forward to see them but they are such an early morning delight! for several days i've tried to snap a photo of them. since the window faces east the sun has reflected off the camera and scared them off every time. but not today!! i waited until around noon when the sun was a bit higher in the sky and was able to snap this photo thru the screen.

it is amazing how much black oil sunflower seed all these little sparrows and purple finches can go thru in a few days' time! and, this bird feeder attracts a pair of doves almost every evening. they come to pick thru the leftover seed droppings on the ground under the feeder.

i love the sound of the twitter, twitter and the coo, coo of these birds!

Monday, May 12, 2008

my first art show!

yesterday was my first art show -- at the art in motion gallery at the town & country mall in kettering! it was fun to organize all my canvasses into the display area, group them in an attractive way, lay out all my promo material, hang my logo signs, etc. there was a good turnout of people -- family, friends and co-workers. plus, i got to meet several new people who stopped in to check out my art and ask questions. i would say the response was very positive. a few people voiced an interst in my vintage collage art class on saturday. so toady i am tired and taking the day off to recuperate and get energized for creating a few commissions that i've landed. hope all is well with all of you, my blogger friends!
peace, love, joy!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

georgia o'keefe

georgia o'keefe produced a large volume of work in her lifetime (like grandma moses she lived a long life; georgia died at 98 and grandma moses at 101). however, unlike grandma moses (a self-taught artist), georgia started producing art at an early age and was a very well-trained artist. so i don't think the term unbottling can be applied to georgia o'keefe. i did enjoy reading about her and viewing the images of her art. the above image is titled "jimson weed". off to a mother's day celebration at my folks house in economy, indiana!! have a wonderful weekend!!

Friday, May 9, 2008

unbottling a life of creativity

if you've read stephen king's dumas key then you'll be familiar with the term "unbottling". king uses it in reference to the main character's discovery of his hidden artistic talent late in life. the theory is that artists who bloom late in life tend to be very prolific, generating large volumes of work over a few years. this is in contrast to many younger artists who tend to produce fewer works over a longer period of time.
unbottling came up at lunch yesterday with my friends and ex co-workers. creative director scott said i needed to keep working away at my art as i was unbottling. i do think that there is some truth to this as i have created a lot of originals in the last year. we'll just call it what it is -- an obsession -- and be done with it. but as shannon pointed out (once grandma moses' name came up) "julie's not THAT old, scott". smile!
so, as i promised i would, i googled grandma moses to see if "unbottling" was used in her bio. i learned that she was anna maria robertson moses (september 7, 1860 -- december 13, 1961). she took up painting in her 70's after giving up a career in embroidery because she was suffering from arthritis. her work was exhibited throughout europe and japan and she produced a prolific volume of work during the last 30 years of her life. there was high demand for her art during her lifetime and her works currently hang in numerous art galleries, museums and even in the white house. i did not find the term "unbottling" in any of my searches.
the above work is titled "beautiful world" and she painted it in 1948.
so now that i have that out of my system i'm headed back to the art room to continue unbottling. it is just wonderful to have a term to define what i'm doing. and, scott, just remember that i'm not THAT old.
tomorrow, look for a piece on georgia o'keefe. our little group debated whether she was older and unbottling or not. one more question to put to rest.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

revised and revisited

after i posted this collage on monday i just kept looking at it and thinking it needed more. i do this quite frequently. it is not at all unusual for me to revise and revisit a canvas a couple of times before i put the top layer of protection on it. that is one of the things i like best about paper collage-- it is quite forgiving and easy to cover up and/or fix. so on this one i squirted some sea foam green scrapbook paint out on my palette. i wadded up a plastic grocery bag and started dabbing the bag into the paint and onto the canvas. this was a total first-time experiment and as always i was a bit anxious that i would completely mess the project up. but i loved it. sometimes you CAN'T have too much of a good thing SO i did the same thing with a shade of grape scrapbook paint (but with a bit more moderation). this extra layer added just the right sea-like effect and was a huge improvement to the finished piece. i can now walk by the canvas as it sits on an old antique dining chair in my art room without thinking, "i don't like it; it needs something else".

i must say that at this stage of my life i tend to revisit old thoughts, feelings and experiences quite frequently as well. even though i can't revise what happened in the past i am able to reconsider how i feel about them now that i can see them from a distance. i have a more mature and settled outlook on life and i'm able to cut myself a bit more slack. being accepted and liked is not a huge priority for me. what matters more is that i like me and am happy with the course i am setting for myself. this journey in art and self-expression has been a long time coming and i plan to stay the course and enjoy the ride for as long as possible!

quote for the day::
two roads diverged in a wood, and i--
i took the one less traveled by,
and that has made all the difference.
robert frost, the road not taken

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

jumpin' in the rain

i got up at 5:30 this morning to be on the road by 6:20 to drive to indiana to babysit my 3-year old granddaughter jenna today. she is a barrel of fun and so quick -- both mentally and physically. we made this plastic glass of flowers. they are hand cut paper flowers inserted onto plastic straws. i cut the end of the straw vertically a few times to make a stamen which kept the paper petals on the straw. she had fun with it -- picking out each straw color to go with each flower, deciding which papers to glue back to back, coloring patterns on the petals and inserting the straws into the holes in the petals. her little hands (and mind) just fly. she had the scissors and was cutting into the sheets of stickers before i could even react. i feel like she is always 3 steps ahead of me and i'm playing catch-up!!

my favorite part of the day was as i was leaving. she and my daughter (her mom) were jumping in the rain puddles in the driveway. it was so cute and fun and i snapped a couple of totally great photos. sorry but you'll have to take my word for it. megan is not comfortable with my posting photos of jenna on the net. i completely understand. i'm wonderfully tired and ready to see who gets the boot on american idol tonight. i'm hitting the art room bright and early tomorrow morning and then having lunch with ex co-workers. fun, fun, fun!!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

bliss forever tulips

the race to finish art before my art reception on sunday continues. this one is titled "bliss forever tulips" and looks better in person. the photo is a bit funky, i think. it is on a 14" x 14" x 1 1/2" gallery wrapped canvas and is part of my vintage series. i used bits and pieces torn from old books like an early 1900's indiana math book, an old copy of wuthering heights, a french vocabulary book, a copy of william tell in german and several old family cookbooks. i've really struggled with the blues today, missing my co-workers and a reason to put on make-up and dress in non-sweats and t-shirt attire. this too shall pass (careful what you wish for)!!!

tomorrow i'm up and at it early to go to indiana to babysit my grandaughter jenna for the day. we will have so much fun playing in the yard, doing some crafts together (i have 2 planned and need to pack up supplies this evening), visiting the library and making manicotti for dinner. she is such a delightful 3 year old and doesn't stop for one minute. we will have a very special day!!

off for a walk with my dear, dear presley. to quote mr. john denver: "sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy". i'm about to put that one to the test!! have a great evening, my blog friends!!

Monday, May 5, 2008

fantasy fish

here's a whimsical piece i finished today -- my idea of "fantasy fish". it is a watercolor wash with torn paper, pastel chalks, ink, and oil pastels. i had good company while i worked. my min schnauzer, presley, is my constant companion in the art room. i put a thick blanket under my old antique work table right beside my slanted art desk. he sleeps away under there while i sing along with the rest of my company which today included kenny chesney; james taylor; crosby, stills, nash & young; the shins; and my two pauls (mc cartney and simon!!). i'm off to take presley for a walk before my hubby gets home. it is gorgeous here today! after dinner i'm putting tomato plants and geraniums in the ground. happy monday to all!!!

blog give-away!!!

in my travels in blog world this morning, i stumbled on a blog giveaway. the downtown boutique is giving away a $20 amazon gift card if you participate in her little voting contest. you get to check out 4 wonderful etsy shops, select one item from one shop that is your favorite and then post a comment with your fave! it's simple and fun AND you'll get to check out a the downtown boutiuqe blog which i have bookmarked as one of my daily go-to spots. have fun!!!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

fanciful flowers

i really can't believe how much i am enjoying my collage work now that the stress of my job ending has gone away. it feels so rejuvenating and free to just concentrate on being creative without all the political hoopla that engulfed my life the last few months. i titled the above piece "fanciful flowers". it is a combination of watercolors, torn paper, pastel chalks, ink and oil pastels. it looks so beautiful hanging in my art room which is painted a wonderful shade of apple green. i have several ideas for additional collages using this same technique of torn paper over a wash of watercolor. like many of my projects, this one took a completely different direction than my original plan. it just seemed to spread its wings and take on a whole new life of its own. it pretty much ended up much better than i could have imagined which is a good thing!

i was up in the night looking for a job because even though i'm having the time of my life with this art gig i know the realities of the world and that i truly must be employed. how else will i be able to continue my art hobby??? i had wonderful luck and applied to 7 jobs. i have my fingers crossed!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

paradise palm

today was my first day of unemployment -- a glorious day!!! i got up at 6 am and spent 3 hours completely reorganizing my art room. it was a total mess and i just couldn't even think about collaging until the chaos was banished. then i spent the rest of the day working on this commission piece i titled "paradise palm". it is an 18" x 26" solid piece of aspen and will hang in the home of a co-worker's friend who lives in bermuda. i wasn't sure if i would like collaging on wood but i totally did. it did not have any give so the paper did not bow or buckle so it was much easier to work with than canvas. please tell me what you think about this collage. i don't feel very objective about this one. probably because i'm tired!!

tomorrow i'm hitting the art room early again so i can get a few more canvasses done before my artist reception on may 11th. i have a few ideas brewing but nothing sketched out yet. since the art room is cleaned up i can veg out and sketch while sipping my coffee. it will be another day of glorious unemployment!!!