Monday, December 27, 2010

Necktie Christmas Tree Skirt

A couple of months before Christmas I was reading a magazine and saw a pattern for a tree skirt made from men's neckties.  I didn't keep the pattern or remember where I saw it.  But how hard could it be, I thought.  I have tons of neckties, a good little sewing machine and ingenuity soooooo.....

I started by cutting a circle about an inch and a half wide out of tag board.  I folded the ties around the circle and pinned them.  When the circle was full I sewed the neckties to the tag board.  It got quite clumsy as more ties were added.  Additionally, the ties wouldn't stay straight!

But I did get them together and laid the circle over the tree base (and stuck the tree top in the base).  My favorite critic, Roxy, contemplated the result.

After a few minutes, she decided that it looked O.K.  I thought that it needed more ties but didn't feel like grappling with the mess anymore.

We finished putting the tree together and you can see the results of this little experiment below.

We sit and look at the tree all the time and discuss ways to improve on this (pathetic) tree skirt!  Stay tuned, more to come - next Christmas!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Decorating for Christmas

Quite by accident we found this lovely 8 foot artificial tree at the Salvation Army store. As is usually the case, we weren't shopping for a tree. But it was there, The Big Guy talked the clerk down to $38 and we went home with my pick-up bed full of greenery.

It was relatively easy to put together. The only problem was that we couldn't find our decorations! I lent them to the grandchild's household last year but didn't leave them there. I made a(nother 82 mile, $11 in tolls) trip to storage to look there. After going through about 20 boxes, I found two that said 'xmas decs' and took them home. Roxy and I posed in front of the tree when Big Guy finished getting it up.

In those boxes were some of my candlesticks, which I put up on the mantle.
I had previously found my two Christmas lego sets - Santa and four reindeer (no Rudolph!) and the Nativity scene. There was also a little, wind-up train set. I drug out an old chest and covered it with red felt and set up the legos there. SB daughter came by for dinner and brought flowers. I put them on the chest, too.

I really enjoyed decorating the tree this year. It has been eight years since we have had a tree. We were going to put the train around it, may still - it is only the 13th after all!

I think beginning my Christmas shopping would be a good idea, now!

Friday, November 19, 2010

The newspaper and other thoughts

The Big Guy recently subscribed to the local newspaper for me. I enjoy reading the paper and the one I had subscribed to didn't really include enough local news to satisfy me. The Bulletin is almost totally local news. It drives me crazy! Not the local news part but the writing. The Managing Editor is the king of run-on sentences and misplaced modifiers! Doesn't he have grammar check on his computer????? I want to sit with a red pen when I read the paper! And then I want to mail the corrections back to him! Maybe I could get a job at the editorial desk.

It's raining again. The difference this time is we finally got everything that is still outside covered up today, before the rain started. It is supposed to rain through Monday. Can you say 'grim', anyone?

Speaking of raining, The "It's Raining Dogz and Catz" (aka The Red) sketchbook is well on its way to being done. I am all the way to the perforated pages.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Best Buds and Cherry - more granddogs

Red is now my oldest granddog, and, don't tell the others, my favorite. His best friend is Nix a VERY LARGE 14" Standard Beagle (with papers). He surpassed 14" at about six months! I used two photos to draw this because the dogs wouldn't pose for me - what a surprise! Again I did a light drawing with pencil and went over it with colored pencils. Wanted to use gouache but because my studio is in the throes of moving (e.g. a total mess!) I couldn't find them.


Cherry is the smallest of my granddogs. She is a feisty Maltese who loves to get in my daughter's purse and go shopping. Black and/or white dogs are very difficult to draw. I really like the line drawing I have done of Cherry. I think it catches her personality and my feelings for her. I sketched the drawing lightly in pencil first and then went over it with a silver watercolor pencil. The darks are graphite pencil.

I only have ten pages left in The Red Sketchbook unless I want to go back and draw on the backs of pages. I don''t really like to do that as it damages the drawings on the front, especially with the paper in this sketchbook. I am thinking about decorating the cover but that is the last the last thing I will do. Possibly use my dog and cat rubber stamps. Will see........

Monday, November 1, 2010

Catching up


I haven't posted in a while. Have been obsessed with the baseball playoffs and the World Series (Hurray Giants!) and of course, still trying to get all our stuff moved :(

The other day I unpacked some of my art stuff and found my plaster hand and my wooden hand models. So I named them! The plaster hand with the ball is Lincecum and the wooden hand is Posey! The POES are all of apaperaddicts plants which are visiting me for a couple of weeks. There is also a really cool mirror frame (I broke the mirror moving it) on the upper right that she made, too. Hard to see as the light is bad.


This wonderful painting was done by apaperaddict earlier this year (pardon me but am having trouble with color/fonts tonight!). It is also visiting me for a while and I thought the safest place for it was on the wall. Besides, I like to look at it! The Willie the clown doll is a character of Emmett Kelly, a famous 1950's clown. I won the doll when I was about 12 at our church fiesta!


I have been drawing and will catch you up on all of the ones I have done. This is my good friend, Sharon and her cat Aurora. Aurora wouldn't cooperate with the photography so Sharon had to hold her. Aurora and Roxy are pals. Roxy loves to visit and play in Aurora's large backyard.


This is a picture of the last dog I had before Roxy. I had her in the eighties. She was so much fun and she had a sense of humor! If you want a fun and challenging, energetic dog get a Basset Hound! Bassets are really good with children, too.
Ruby had one blue eye and one brown eye, a fault in dog show circles but a talking point in the world of pets. She also had the longest tongue in the world! I couldn't leave anything on the table or counters unless I wanted her to have it!


I watched a program on TV with the grandchild where an artist encouraged kids to draw and gave them an assignment. The assignment was to draw marshmallows. I adapted it to fit into my sketchbook. (can't turn off the italics!)


This is a page of messing around. What a sketchbook is about, after all.

I call this blue tongue for lack of a better name. I was still messing around and came up with this wonky dog.


This is my late granddog, Coochie. He was an old, black Newf who had had lots of hip trouble and finally got to the point where he couldn't manage anymore. His doggy brothers and sisters miss him as do his human companions.

Another view of Lincecum, Posey and the POEs. This space is the top of my dresser and is usually a serene altar.

I took all these pictures with my webcam as my camera is out of commission currently. I am trying to ignore my desire for a new phone that has a camera in it. It would be less to carry around and maybe I could get one with a real keyboard. Looked at them today and saw two that I might like... That should go on the bottom of my list but it just doesn't want to!

Monday, October 18, 2010


Red Dog and Nixon - best buds!

I forgot my red sketchbook! I am feeling drawing deprived. Not that there is much time to draw because Mom has so many things which need to be done while I'm here. But I can't even fondle the thing ;(
So, I'm going to go to sleep now and leaving you with an image of two of my granddogs.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Out of my head

Was visiting the grandchild last week and he challenged me to draw something original (as opposed to copying a picture) in the red sketchbook. So I did and I surprised myself! Will do more of these.

More sites have been added to the sketchbook tour next spring. Check out the Art Co-op website for places and dates.

I am actually hopeful that I will finish this sketchbook! Although I haven't drawn for a week. The move and the Big Guy (who has bronchitis) have taken up all my time. The Big Guy built huge shelves for my studio and I have spent a lot of time loading them up. To move I combined all the fabric I have into big bins. So one thing I had to do was separate it into colors. That took half a day, it seems. The color bins shared the bed with sleeping sicko Big Guy and Roxy. Those bins are shelved along with lots of art supplies, the printer, radio, and lots of books. I sure do have a plethora of stuff. The box with stuff I don't want has three things in it! Artquiltmaker says I have to do a lot of big art in a hurry to get rid of some of my supplies. Sounds like FUN to me!
It is now a week later...didn't get the above posted in a timely manner but am slogging on anyway. The house keeps me really busy. I have lost ten pounds since I moved in in August. I think, in addition to toting furniture and boxes, just the walk from the kitchen to the master bedroom is a lot more exercise than I have gotten in recent years! Plus we ride our bikes a lot and walk the dog every day. Yahoo - no dieting.

Mom lives close to a Whole Foods market so I splurged and bought four gluten free chocolate cupcakes! They are the BEST! Have eaten two, one a day (oops, is that the lost ten pounds sneaking up behind me?!!!)

Have been working on the food quilt and finished several nine patches. They are 18" square and cover over half of our king size bed. Looks like I will have some patches left ove as I only want it to be a double size. Otherwise it will be too big for me to afford to quilt it!

Well, it is late so I'd better get to bed. We have a big day tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

More Red Sketchbook

Got home from Mom's really late Monday night but the 40 oz. iced coffee I had been sipping for the previous three hours kept me awake - what a surprise! So out came the Red Sketchbook and this picture from one of artquiltmakers friends. There is something to be said for sleep deprivation and turning off the left brain/ I did this in about forty minutes! Used blue, purple, and silver for the Newf. Black would not have given him any character, in my opinion! I am very happy with how this turned out.

OOPS - forgot to turn this before I uploaded it! Anyway, this kitty took me about three hours and, though I like it, I don't think it is nearly as good as the Newf and child. I used a grid and was very painstaking with it. Sometimes too much thinking (actually, usually) doesn't help artwork.

Keep drawing! I have to stop as The Big Guy is building shelves in my studio and I escaped to Starbucks for the WiFi. Need to go home and help!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Moving and the Red Sketchbook

We are still in the process of moving and last week the boxes I brought out of storage were a lot of fun to go through. Some of the things we found were our high school year books and photos we hadn't seen in eight years! The drawing below in the red sketchbook and is of SB daughter and her old, now deceased dog, Willie. Willie was a real sweetie of a dog unless you threatened my daughter. He was also my nephew's babysitter! He was a BIG black lab mix and my daughter had him for about fifteen years. When her sister saw this drawing she said "Wow, you look like Dad!". I hadn't seen that at first but when artquiltmaker pointed it out, I did see it.

The Red Sketchbook is coming right along and I have hopes of it being ready in time to include it in the tour the books will be going on. I am enjoying doing the drawings, too. It is especially nice to draw in my new (but very crowded and unorganized) studio. My drafting table is in the studio but it is still in pieces. If the Big Guy doesn't get it put together soon I am going to do it! He has great plans for shelves and stuff for my studio which sound great but he has so many other things to do around the house still that I don't think those plans will come to fruition any time soon!

This kitty is one of the ones friends of artquitmaker sent me. I kept really bad records, though, and don't know whose it is. So if it is yours, let me know and I will e-mail you a copy of it so you can print it out. May do more work on it, haven't decided yet. Sometimes I have to look at a drawing for a while before I see what it needs to be truly finished.

I saw my nephew yesterday. He is taking a painting class at school and I was able to give him a couple of art tips. That was fun for me and I hope the tips help him. I would love to see him develop as an artist. I know his mom loved to have him draw and was proud of his art.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Doggie Drawing

Roxy, the best dog in the world, is one of my favorite subjects to draw. She was laying, asleep, on the floor in my studio (yeah! I have a studio!) the other day and I did a line drawing. Indicated in the drawing the light and shadow of her black coat and later I filled in the body. Of course, she didn't hold still so I drew her head again in the new position. I love the way this came out.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Red Sketchbook - Roxy's cousin, Sadie and miscellaneous other stuff

We have started to have a real life! The Big Guys cousin and her husband and puppy came to visit the other day! First time they have visited us in eight years - we always go to visit them as we had no room for visitors in the trailer at Sequoians.

As I am doing the dogz and catz sketchbook I took a picture of Roxy's cousin, Sadie the pretty lady, a seven year old cocker spaniel and then drew her. There will eventually be a picture of my drawing but for some reason the program won't take me to picture uploads! Artquilltmaker is home and she showed me that once again, it is operator error! As you can see, pictures are included. Anyway, after I took this photo I worked on it some more and now don't like it. Oh, well.

Welcome to the 18th century!

We also went to the Highland Games in Pleasanton last weekend. I went Saturday and the Big Guy went Saturday and Sunday. We joined our old regiment, Montgomeries 77th Highlanders, at their encampment. It was a lot of fun. In the 17 years we have been reinacting the French and Indian War at the different Highland Games I have never had the chance to see the sheep dog trials. Last weekend our encampment was just beyond the trials so I spent a good part of the day watching the dogs. What fun! The dogs were beautiful, mostly well-trained and appeared to love moving the sheep around. They had a difficult time because it was extremely noisy with the bagpipe bands, other loud music and noisy crowds. I saw about 30 dogs run and I think only about four of them completed the course. Some of them got the sheep so excited that the beasts jumped the fence back in to their enclosure!

This is one of the successful dogs. He did a good job getting the sheep to do what he wanted and he finished in plenty of time. The dogs have five minutes to do the run. I enjoyed this so much I thought to myself 'I can do that and would like to!' then my other self said ' Idiot! Those dogs must cost a thousand dollars, need a flock of sheep to practice on and several acres to run.' Sure was fun to watch!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Red Sketchbook - looking like one's pet and more blathering about my life

Person Who Looks Like His Dog

I have been taking BART over to visit the grandchild every Thursday since I've been home (after driving to Castro Valley to check the PO Box) and decided to draw the people who were on the train with me. While drawing I realized that this was not a portrait sketchbook but a dog and cat sketchbook. So I imagined what this guy's dog would look like and here is what I came up with.

Have done a little work in my studio, I can at least walk in there now! The other day I set up my sewing machine on the new antique table artquiltmaker gave me for my anniversary/birthday/christmas/mother's day and all. I worked on the food quilt and finished 41 patches completely and another about 30 sewn together but not trimmed or pressed. Am pretty proud of myself! Think I can actually finish it in time for artquiltmaker to quilt it the end of next month. Talking about it makes me want to go home and sew (I am at Starbucks using their WiFi).

The Big Guy and I are being earth friendly. He attached a box to my bike rack and we went to the grocery store on bikes this morning! Then after recovering I rode my bike the three blocks to Starbucks! This little town is quite convenient. The Senior Center, Post office, Taco Truck (GREAT fish tacos) Wahlgreens and Mexican restaurant are all within bike riding distance. We may save some gas! And possibly get in better shape!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Moving day

Dawn at our new home

Last weekend we finally moved out of the club. A large group of our friends showed up to help us clean up the site and load our possessions. What a job it was! We pretty much left the organization of the work to each person and the group worked really well together! I had rented, courtesy of daughter number two's credit card, a 24' box truck to haul the stuff to our new home. I was flabbergasted when I saw how BIG the truck was! We could have driven the trailer into it, it seemed! As I rented it I had to drive it. When I was inside I was eye level with 18 wheelers! And the thing had air brakes, a first for me. I did fine except for sideswiping one tree on the very narrow road out and skipping over a curb in the first five minutes I drove it! But I had purchased the insurance that was available so no foul to me!

The Big Guy and I worked on Saturday and the crew came on Sunday. One of our friends (a couple) provided a sumptuous repast, including gluten-free food for me. Another couldn't help so she gave us a check! Everyone there worked very very hard and we really appreciate that.

Another good note - another couple who were there helping bought the trailer for exactly what we paid for it six years ago! What a great relief to be rid of that! They have property near Santa Cruz where they want to keep it.

Two of the crew came over to the house and along with our great-nephew, Patrick, unloaded the truck. That was so nice. The Big Guy was spent by then. The only part of him still working was his mouth!

Monday we had to get up at five-thirty to return the truck. I got on the freeway, behind a semi, and toodled back to the barn. That made Monday pretty much a wasted day as neither of us had the energy to do anything else.

Between our daughters and our friends the whole operation went smoothly, was a lot of work, but is finally done! Thanks to everyone!

Now we are faced with putting all this stuff away! What a challenge. Where did it all come from? Where will we put it. We haven't even brought the furniture over yet - where will that go? Yikes!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Red Sketchbook (and some blathering about my life)


Greetings from moving-land. I think I have toted the equivalent of an elephant in the last two weeks! Where did all this stuff come from? Do we really need it? Oh well.

Chaos is our middle name today. We were informed Tuesday that the rest of our stuff was going to be disposed of because we had abandoned the site! Boy, did that tic me off. I have been out there every other day loading up my truck (one day to load, one day to unload - I'm OLD!!). The coop which owns the land is quite unreasonable and hard to deal with. I am at the end of my rope with them. But we have arranged for Sunday to be the final day of moving. Will be so glad when that phase is over! Then we have our single car garage sized storage to empty. We will have furniture instead of only boxes in the house. Oh boy!


Did a couple of Red Sketchbook drawings. One is of Wags, my Mom's late dog and the other is of Nixon one of my granddogs. The Nixon one is done in oil pastel and the Wags is done in dry pastels. I found them in the move! Boy did I find art materials! My studio room is wall to wall two and three boxes high! Some organizing to do there!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Red Sketchbook - Owl

Owl was inspired by a piece of bark from the huge sycamore tree in our new front yard. The bark is decoupaged onto the page and then watercolor and some shiny paste was applied injudiciously (!) over it. Am a little concerned about the bark staying on the page but can't do anything about that now.

The new house is coming along. The Big Guy and the Landlord are working hard. Well, not in this picture! They did a lot of prep for putting up drywall (on the ceiling - shouldn't it be called ceiling wall - or something?) and today will start putting that up.

One thing the Big Guy had to do was take down the ceiling fixture. We've all heard of plumber's crack..well I got a great shot of electrician's crack! But in deference to delicate sensibilities, I'm not posting it. It does trump plumber;s crack, however! He had to put on suspenders 'cause his pants wouldn't stay up!

I'm typing this blog entry and yesterdays blog entry on notepad. Storing it until I get over to Starbucks to use their WiFi. We don't have the utilities in our name yet and think I may not get any wireless or TV. Have heard that we can get TV with digital rabbit ears where we are (because it is FLAT and mountainless!) Starbucks is free and within walking distance. It would keep me from spending hours on the net and I can use that time to paint. A win-win. With texting and my cell I can keep in touch with everyone.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Home again!


I am back in NoCal! Slept better last night than I have in four months. It was great. And in honor of my return it has been lovely and cool, only about 78 degrees! I was actually cold when I got up this a.m. The other great thing is The Big Guy and my dog are deliriously happy to have me home. The dog has not left my side/lap/feet since I arrived. Another perk is that the house is two hours closer to Mom's and only two blocks from Starbucks and a grocery store. So I'm happy. Still have to make the trip to the grandchild's, which I plan to do on public transportation, to see how that goes. Stay tuned!



Artquiltmaker chastised me about keeping it too precious so I am working on giving that up. I drew/painted Homer, Mom's formerly rotten dog (he greatly improved with Mean Mary living with him for 4 months!). I am happy with how it came out as it looks exactly like him!





Also took photos of the Sunday Lunch Gang. Banana splits were the dessert of choice on this day! I feel like SoCal is another dimension where I am a different person. In charge, mean, responsible and not even able to use my real name as Mom uses my childhood nickname :(. In NoCal I am an equal partner and not totally responsible to make sure everything gets done. It is a real relief.

Well, it is time to get to work on our new house - which is a definite fixer upper with lots of potential! More later.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Drawing questions

While sitting in the car waiting for Super G (Mom) to conduct her business at the post office I sketched up this ATC. For some reason none of the pictures I took of it were in focus! But this is the best of the lot.

I enjoy drawing like this but for some reason can't get myself to do it in the infamous Red Sketchbook. Can't wait for December when I have to send it back. I'm ordering a different color next time! So what do you this cartoony type of drawing OK?

Speaking of Mom going into the post office by herself we had excellent news at her Monday neurosurgeon visit. Instead of seeing Anne, the physician's assistant, we saw Dr. Handsome (name changed to protect the innocent and describe the doctor!). He took off the neck brace! So Mom is well on the road to recovery. We signed her up for Dial-a-ride and are soliciting friends to drive her to various activities which are integral to a happy life for her. Getting her to ask for help is a huge hurdle. She has agreed to online grocery shopping. I know what she likes so that will make it easier.

The limitations set by Dr. Handsome were only two: no lifting anything weighing more than five pounds (did some serious culling in her purse!) and no driving until evaluated at her next appointment in October.

Mom's good news is also good news for me. I am anticipating going home early in a August.

The Big Guy has started moving boxes over to the new house. We can't move too much because the building inspector has to approve the new electrical first. But the boxes are in the bedroom half of the house which wasn't damaged in the fire.

I have been dreaming about decorating the new house. Want to put bead board half way up one wall in the master bedroom and paint it a shade of green with a lighter green above. Want to get one of those beds that is a top bunk with a work space instead of a bottom bunk for my studio so the grandchild will always have a place to sleep. Want to put my antique sleigh bed in the front bedroom for mom when she visits along with the dresser that holds a TV. The middle bedroom will be a dedicated guest room for the landlord's mom who visits from Mexico (she is going to teach me Spanish and I am going to teach her English!). I want to get a rectangular table for the kitchen but will probably settle for the round one we have already. Hope to be able to set-up my drafting board in my studio, too. It may be too big.

So, I am looking forward to the end of this adventure with mom and starting over in the new place. I'll keep you posted.


I finally finished the blocks for Anna Maria Horner's project making quilts for people who suffered losses in the recent floods in TN. They are wrapped and ready to be mailed later today. Look at Anna Maria's blogspot for info on this worthy project. If I weren't measuring challenged this would have been a snap. I'm sure it will be really easy for you!

I'm on a roll with the food quilt. I think I have cut enough squares and I purchased the buttercup Kona cotton I want for the corners (not a jellyroll :( - couldn't find one I could touch!). Now all I have to do is cut the buttercup (after I decide what size it should be) and start sewing. Maybe today? After Sunday lunch with the Mom's gang, and games and desert with her gentleman friend.